Vladimir Putin cruised to victory in Sunday’s presidential elections in a result that was never in question. His fourth term as president will extend until 2024, making him the first Kremlin leader to serve two decades.
With results still coming in, Putin looked set to exceed expectations by clinching more than 73% of the vote.
Vladimir Putin has dominated the Russian political scene for more than a decade, as president and prime minister of the country. Times magazine named him Person of the Year in 2007 and Forbes ranked him the world’s most powerful man from 2013 to 2024 – five times in a row. Here are some facts that you may not know about the Russian president.
Born on Oct. 7, 1952, he grew up in a communal apartment block (pictured) in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, the Russian city ravaged by World War II. He shared the fifth-floor walk-up with his parents and two siblings.
MARTIAL ARTS BUFF
His mother didn’t approve of his decision to start learning judo when he was 11. An avid martial artist, Putin earned the fifth dan black belt in judo in 2001, the highest ranked ninth dan in taekwondo in 2013 and the eighth dan black belt in karate in 2014.
He married Lyudmila Putina in 1983, and the couple had two daughters: Maria and Katerina Putina. The children went to school under assumed names for security reasons. In April 2014, Putin and his wife separated after 31 years of marriage.
Putin enjoys “active leisure” wherein he enjoys fishing, horse-riding, whitewater rafting, scuba diving, skiing and ice hockey. He also frequents an open-air gym where he does some intensive weight training.
Although he was an atheist as a child, Putin turned to church after two major accidents during the 1990s – his wife’s car accident and a house fire. Now he is a devout member of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Russian President is a dog lover. He named his Bulgarian shepherd dog, Buffy (R), after holding a nationwide naming contest. His other dog is an Akita Inu named Yume (L). Most of his pets were gifted to him, including a goat Skazka, a dwarf horse named Vadik and even a Siberian tiger cub.
LOVE FOR WILDLIFE
After tracking and tranquillizing tigers and getting pictured with polar bears, Putin took his love for wildlife to another level in 2012 (pictured) when he flew a motorized deltaplane light aircraft in the Yamal Peninsula to lead Siberian cranes, raised in captivity, on a migration route.
Putin showed off his pipes during a charity event in St. Petersburg when he sang Fat Domino’s “Blueberry Hill” in front of an audience that included Sharon Stone, Kevin Costner and Goldie Hawn. His spokesperson later said Putin learned the lyrics in his English class.