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  • From Soviet spy to the highest elected office in Russia, Vladimir Putin has now served as

  • President of Russia for 14 yearsand by all accounts he's about to make that 20.

  • Putin is now the second longest-serving leader in modern Russian history, coming in at #2

  • behind Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

  • He has been in power in Russia since 2000, when he was first elected President.

  • Although he took a break from the Presidency in 2008-2012 in order to serve as Prime Minister,

  • many saw Putin as still holding most of the power.

  • Hey guys, I'm Versha, and today we want to take a closer look at Putin's rise to

  • power and his ambitions for Russia.

  • Putin was born in 1952 in Leningrad, as it was known during the Soviet Union.

  • Today, it's called St. Petersburg.

  • He had a rough childhood: his two brothers died very young from infections and complications,

  • and he ended up growing up in a tiny, communal apartment shared by 6 people.

  • Putin's mother was a factory worker and his father was a conscript in the Soviet Navy.

  • As a young boy, Putin became enamored with the idea of being an intelligence officer.

  • But reportedly, he was too impulsive and undisciplined - he still had a lot of growing up to do if

  • he was going to achieve his dream.

  • By many accounts, the maturing process began in about the sixth grade.

  • Young Putin began to take his studies more seriously and also became interested in extracurricular

  • activities like martial arts.

  • But his goal was still to become a secret agent.

  • When he was in the 9th grade, he quoteapproached the local branch of the KGB, asking for an

  • appointment to discuss his career prospects.”

  • A senior agent told young Putin that he should join the military or study law, but quote

  • in any event, not to contact the agency again.”

  • And study law is just what he did.

  • In 1970, Putin enrolled at Leningrad State University.

  • By this time, Putin had reinvented himself into a disciplined, hard working, and athletic

  • young man.

  • He also joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union while he was there.

  • Then he got the call he had been waiting on... the KGB.

  • The KGB contacted Putin when he was in his fourth of his five years at Leningrad State.

  • And after a probationary period, the 22-year-old Putin finally became a KGB agent in 1975.

  • After years of training, he was assigned to monitor foreigners and people who worked at

  • consulates in Leningrad, before he was sent to Dresden, East Germany.

  • Dresden was widely considered a backwater station for KGB agents, which casts doubt

  • on Putin's own claims of being a super-spy.

  • Masha Gessen, a Putin biographer and well-known critic, says the KGB agents' jobs during

  • this time wasmainly collecting press clippings.”

  • Putin says when the Berlin Wall came down, he burned KGB documents so that protesters

  • couldn't get to them.

  • Regardless of what Putin actually did during this time, we know being a KGB agent strongly

  • influenced his political way of thinking - both in terms of strategy and execution.

  • As a KGB officer working in East Germany, Putin saw firsthand the effects of the end

  • of the Cold War and the fall of communism.

  • He once said in an interview that "few people understand the magnitude of the catastrophe

  • that happened late in the 1980s when the Communist Party had failed to modernize the Soviet Union."

  • The breakup of the USSR really impacted Putin in terms of his worldview and his ambitions.

  • His focus shifted to politics.

  • After returning from East Germany, he would go on to work in local St. Petersburg government

  • for the mayor's office.

  • During this time, people said he preferred to remain in the background, still operating

  • more on a behind the scenes basis as he did in the KGB.

  • But he eventually moved to Moscow where he would work his way up and become a more public

  • politician - almost accidentally.

  • Boris Yeltsin, the first President of the new Russian Federation, took notice of him

  • and appointed him to his presidential staff in 1997.

  • By 1998, Putin had earned Yeltsin's trust enough for him to make him director of the

  • FSB, which was basically the KGB's post-Soviet successor.

  • The Federal Security Service, or the FSB, is the main intelligence agency of Russia,

  • covering national security, counter-terrorism and surveillance.

  • The external circumstances of global politics helped change Putin's goals - he became

  • a politician who wanted to fix things in Russia, as he saw the struggling post-Soviet economy.

  • He wanted Russia to remain a global power.

  • In 1999, Yeltsin announced that he wanted Putin to be his successor.

  • He made him Acting Prime Minister and then, Acting President, when Yeltsin unexpectedly

  • resigned on New Year's Eve 1999.

  • So Putin ushered in the 21st century as Russia's acting leader, which was cemented in a presidential

  • election held a couple months later.

  • It was during these early years of his presidency that we learned Putin was still focused on

  • how the break-up of the Soviet Union had negatively affected Russia.

  • It's objectively true that the disintegration of the USSR led to a rough transition period

  • for many of the former republics, including Russia.

  • His new goal became establishing Russia as a world power -- again.

  • To that end, he wanted to consolidate power: Putin's Russia has since become increasingly

  • authoritarian, including limitations on free speech and the media and the arrest and sometimes

  • murder of political opponents and journalists.

  • Also, Putin sees post Soviet countries like Estonia and Ukraine gravitating toward liberal

  • democracy, as seen in the European Union, as a real threat to Russia's power and world

  • standing.

  • And Putin believes Russia has a rightful claim to territories in the former Soviet republics.

  • In 2008, Russia sent troops into Georgia in an attempt to annex breakaway regions in the

  • country, according to experts.

  • Those regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both have a significant ethnic Russian population.

  • But this quickly came to an end when the French brokered a ceasefire that dictated the removal

  • of most Russian troops from Georgia.

  • Crimea was a different story.

  • Russia successfully annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

  • In fact the first round of the Russian presidential election in 2018 is on March 18 - the exact

  • date that Russia annexed Crimea, which Putin saw as a huge victory and which boosted his

  • approval ratings domestically - even if it caused great concern to the rest of the world.

  • Putin's main goal now is to continue to expand Russian power globally - at home, in

  • neighboring countries, and abroad.

  • He certainly doesn't want to see former republics from the USSR becoming more European

  • or Western.

  • In fact, the wordWesterntoday is often considered a dirty word in Russian politics.

  • So what can we look forward in Putin's likely fourth term?

  • First - he's ensured he will be in power longer - Russian presidential terms have changed

  • from 4 years to 6.

  • So he will likely now serve as President until 2024, when he will be 71 years old.

  • We should also be on the lookout for his goal of broadening Russian influence around the

  • world - while news of Russian interference in the U.S. elections has dominated American

  • media, experts say we should pay attention to what Russia is doing politically in Venezuela

  • and Libya, as well as the Middle East and Europe.

  • Putin still wants Russia to rival the U.S. as a superpower, and he's stepping in where

  • the Trump administration is stepping out.

  • This is sure to have an significant impact on the world.

  • So, you just watch the story of how Vladimir Putin became the powerful figure that he is

  • today.

  • But who are some other world leaders you'd like us to profile next and why?

  • Let us know in the comments below!

  • Thanks for watching NowThis World and PLEASE don't forget to like and subscribe for more

  • every week!

From Soviet spy to the highest elected office in Russia, Vladimir Putin has now served as

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Vladimir Putin's Rise to Power | NowThis World

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    Amanda Chang posted on 2018/04/02
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