MOSCOW – When he was a child in a dismal Soviet communal apartment, Vladimir Putin was a junkyard who dreamed of being an operator: he trained diligently in martial arts and boldly entered a KGB office to ask how to become a spy.  As the leader of Russia in the 21st century, it has been the epitome of both traits: fighting the Chechen rebels, directing the annexation of Crimea and, supposedly, approving an extensive and tortuous campaign to undermine American democracy.
His announcement that he will be running for a fourth term in office came rather late, a little over three months before the March 18 elections, but it was not a surprise. The man and the office are indistinguishable.
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Few, if any, politicians have come out of the shadows faster and have attracted attention at home and abroad. Before being appointed prime minister of President Boris Yeltsin in August 1999, he had been head of the Federal Security Service, one of the KGB's successor agencies, which is not a highly visible position.
Many observers defined him as a gray mediocrity, suggesting laughingly that his service with the KGB in the friendly territory of East Germany suggested that he had not been very skilled as an intelligence agent. Yeltsin dragged the prime ministers at an alarming rate, and Putin could have been the last through the revolving door.
But the following month, he showed himself by commenting on the first days of the second war against the Chechen rebels, saying "if we capture them in the toilet and then we'll waste them in the toilet." Adamant, macho and a touch of crude language: the comment seemed to reveal the essence of Putin that was formed in his youth.
When he became a Presidential actor after Yeltsin's resignation, his language was more refined, but his style was just as hard. "I want to warn that any attempt to go beyond the Russian law … will be decisively suppressed," he said, with one arm resting on a desk, resembling a loan officer dealing with a delinquent client.
Putin was born on October 10. 7, 1952, to the parents of the factory workers in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, a city imbued with memories of the terrible suffering of the almost 900 days of Nazi siege in World War II. One of Putin's older brothers died of diphtheria during the siege and the other died a few months after the birth. According to "First Person", interviews published after becoming acting president, Putin and his parents lived in a gloomy communal apartment with a toilet in the hallway.
Putin said he responded to these harsh circumstances by becoming a "hooligan" of childhood. , "One of the few in his school is not allowed in the Young Communist Pioneers." In his early adolescence, Putin channeled his aggressive tendencies into martial arts, a sport he practiced greedily in middle age.
As a teenager, Putin aspired to join the KGB, apparently more for adventure than ideology, and succeeded after graduating from the law school of Leningrad University in 1975.
Putin worked in counterintelligence, He supervised foreigners in Leningrad and in 1985 he started his post in Dresden. He returned to Leningrad in 1990 and began working for the reformist mayor of the city. Putin resigned from the KGB a year later, on the second day of the failed coup attempt against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, backed by the KGB.
Putin married Lyudmila Skrebneva, an Aeroflot stewardess who later became a university professor in German in 1983. Thirty years later, the couple appeared on state television in a causal false interview to announce that their marriage it was about to end; According to reports, Putin was too dedicated to his work to be an attentive husband.
Despite rumors of a flirt with an attractive female gymnastics star, Putin publicly presents himself as erect and abstemious. He is rarely seen with a glass of vodka and almost never drinks.
Although reports have suggested that Putin has accumulated great wealth, he shows little taste for true ostentation outside the golden halls of the Kremlin. His public face is an older and better fed version of the rude teenager from a bad part of the city, determined to dominate.
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