Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (born 7 October 1952) is a Russian politician and former intelligence officer serving as President of Russia since 2012, previously holding the position from 2000 until 2008. In between his presidential terms he was also the Prime Minister of Russia under his close associate Dmitry Medvedev.
Putin was born in Leningrad, Russian SFSR. He studied law at Leningrad State University, graduating in 1975. Putin was a KGB foreign intelligence officer for 16 years, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before resigning in 1991 to enter politics in Saint Petersburg. He moved to Moscow in 1996 and joined President Boris Yeltsin's administration, rising quickly through the ranks and becoming Acting President on 31 December 1999, when Yeltsin resigned.
During his first presidency, the Russian economy grew for eight straight years, and GDP measured in purchasing power increased by 72%. The growth was a result of the 2000s commodities boom, recovery from the post-Communist depression and financial crises, and prudent economic and fiscal policies. In September 2011, Putin announced he would seek a third term as president. He won the March 2012 presidential election with 64% of the vote. Falling oil prices coupled with international sanctions imposed at the beginning of 2014 after Russia's annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Eastern Ukraine led to GDP shrinking by 3.7% in 2015, though the Russian economy rebounded in 2016 with 0.3% GDP growth and the recession officially ended. Putin gained 76% of the March 2018 presidential vote and was re-elected for a six-year term that will end in 2024.
Under Putin's leadership, Russia has scored poorly in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index and experienced democratic backsliding according to both the Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index and Freedom House's Freedom in the World index (including a record low 20/100 rating in the 2017 Freedom in the World report, a rating not given since the time of the Soviet Union). Experts do not generally consider Russia to be a democracy, citing purges and jailing of political opponents, curtailed press freedom, and the lack of free and fair elections. Human rights organizations and activists have accused Putin of persecuting political critics and activists, as well as ordering them tortured or assassinated; he has rejected accusations of human rights abuses. Officials of the United States government have accused him of leading an interference program against Hillary Clinton in support of Donald Trump during the U.S. presidential election in 2016, an allegation which both Trump and Putin have frequently denied and criticized.