Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (Russian: Владимир Владимирович Путин) (born October 7, 1952) was reelected president of the Russian Federation in 2012, after serving as prime minister since May 8, 2008, and previously serving as president since December 31, 1999, the day Boris Yeltsin resigned from the presidency. Putin governs a nation that is rapidly becoming more Christian and more conservative, and his snubbing of Obama in May 2012 suggests that Putin is well aware of how conservative his country is becoming.
Putin is mainly backed by the United Russia (Единая Россия) party, which currently holds a majority in the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, known as the Duma. The party usually reflects the political views of Putin, which are that of moderate conservatism and nationalism. On March 14, 2004, he was elected to a second term as president with 71% of the vote. Barred from a third consecutive term by the Russian constitution, Putin ceded the presidency to Dmitry Medvedev on May 7, 2008 and became Prime Minister, at the time sharing power with the more moderate Medvedev. Medvedev did not run for a second term, and, as a result, Putin was re-elected in 2012.
In terms of achievements, Putin stabilized the Russian economy and restored Russia's national pride, largely by politically exploiting the financial windfall of Europe's need for Russian oil and gas. Russians were enthusiastic that he ended the social chaos that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the subsequent pell-mell privatization of the state-owned economy. Many Russians have been mesmerized by the new glitter of Moscow and the restored glamor of St. Petersburg. Russia's revived self-pride follows the humiliation of the chaos after 1991 and the incompetence of his predecessor Boris Yeltsin. Russians have a long history of authoritarian governments and a strong diastase for anarchy. They have little experience with freedom. The Russian mafia, which is more sophisticated than its counterparts elsewhere, controls more than 40 percent of the total economy. Their control is thought to be even greater in certain areas, such as banking, real estate, and consumer markets.
Putin has ruled Russia harshly in the style of the Czars—albeit not in the style of the Soviets. He gains popularity every time he challenges the U.S. or Europe, or sends troops to harass Georgia. Putin's Russia is an authoritarian system, with restricted capitalism, a rubber stamp parliament, pliant media, imprisoned or exiled oligarchs, harassed NGOs, marginalized pro-Western, democratic parties, and a foreign policy based on bullying and military strength, all based on money from oil and gas.
Putin was born in Leningrad on October 7, 1952 and was baptized as an Orthodox Christian and continue to be a member to this day. He was educated in law and economics at Leningrad State University before being assigned to work in the GRU. After five years in East Germany, he took up various political positions before becoming prime minister in 1999.
He is married to Lyudmila Putina since July 28, 1983 (former airline stewardess). They have two daughters.
Putin is seen as an antagonist by liberals in the West, who are angry about their inability to push the homosexual agenda and pro-abortion policies on Russia. It is possible that his hostility to NATO and the U.S., his demand for a voice in the affairs of ex-Soviet nations, his rigged election system, nationalized oil, protection of Iran, and threats to Georgia have heightened tensions. The decline of human rights in Russia has been dramatic; for example, Russian riot police beat a number of protesters and journalists at an anti-Putin rally at Pushkin Square in Moscow,  and Putin rigged national elections for his party 
Putin has even exercised power over the Russian supreme court. Justice Vladimir Yaroslavtsev was forced to resign after warning that Russian security agencies now control the country as they did in Soviet times and expressing alarm over their lack of accountability. Justice Anatoly Kononov was likewise forced out after defending Yaroslavtsev.
A further cause of alarm is a quick moving bill moving through the Russian parliament which is said to have Putin's support, and which would make it illegal to discuss religion without a Kremlin-issued permit. Putin has also promoted a KGB operative into the position of pontiff of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Many who have reported or protested such things have found themselves being repressed - or killed. Journalist Anna Politkovskaya, an outspoken critic of Putin, was assassinated in 2006 , and it is widely believed that the Russian government had some involvement in this death. There were 13 journalists killed in contract-style slayings during Vladimir Putin's eight-year presidency. 
Despite these negatives—or perhaps because of the strong hand they reveal—Putin remains popular in Russia. Since coming to power, Putin has expanded Russia's economy and reduced inflation. The majority of Russians are relatively uninterested in politics outside of issues affecting their personal prosperity,  and journalist Anna Politkovskaya argued that the Russian people, as a whole, have been willing to tolerate violence in the name of "comfort and peace and quiet".
Relations with U.S.
President Obama's decision in August 2009 to cancel an antimissile defense system in Central Europe (the Czech Republic, Poland and Lithuania) earned a strong welcome from Putin. Now, the question is whether Russia will do more to help prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Putin, who had repeatedly assailed the antimissile system as a grave danger to Russia's security, called Obama's decision correct and brave. President Dmitri A. Medvedev hinted that Russia would respond favorably to the decision to replace former President George W. Bush's plan with a missile shield seen as less threatening to Moscow.
- Baker, Peter, and Susan Glasser. Kremlin Rising: Vladimir Putin's Russia and the End of Revolution (2nd ed. 2007); excerpt and text search
- Goldman, Marshall I. Petrostate: Putin, Power, and the New Russia (2008) excerpt and text search
- Lucas, Edward. The New Cold War: Putin's Russia and the Threat to the West (2009) excerpt and text search
- Stuermer, Michael. Putin and the Rise of Russia (2009)
- Wegren, Stephen K., and Dale R. Herspring, eds. After Putin's Russia: Past Imperfect, Future Uncertain (4th ed. 2009) excerpt and text search
- ↑ Putin was later elected president by 54% of the electorate on March 26, 2000.
- ↑ Louise I. Shelley, The Price Tag of Russia's Organized Crime
- ↑ Killing The KGB Myth, August 21, 2009.
- ↑ The Economist, April 21, 2007
- ↑ http://www.reuters.com/article/homepageCrisis/idUSL03585550._CH_.2400
- ↑ Are You An Independent Russian Judge? You're Fired, RobertAmsterdam.com
- ↑ Kim Zigfeld, Putin's Own Worst Enemy American Thinker, December 08, 2009
- ↑ http://larussophobe.wordpress.com/2009/12/03/editorial-another-russian-journalist-takes-the-putin-plunge
- ↑ http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article1819666.ece
- ↑ Russian Lawyer in Slain Journalist Case Says She, Family Poisoned AP, October 15, 2008
- ↑ http://www.levada.ru/prezident.html Putin's Approval Ratings
- ↑ The Economist, April 21, 2007
- ↑ Politkovskaya, Anna. Putin's Russia. London: Harvill Press, 2004