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Photo by Solarshingles

A Family Man

He lived a simple childhood, born on October 7th, 1952, in Leningrad. He grew up to have a model marriage and a picture perfect family. However, some allege that his father was a Nazi, that his true mother gave him up after a birth out of wedlock, and that he maintained a relationship with a mistress. All this aside, the indisputable fact is that Putin is a sportsman unlike any other, keeping the media focused on his constant outings to fish, hunt, and demolish his competition in Judo tournaments. Anyway, talking about his past irritates him. He obviously prefers to make his own picture of his way to the role of a world ruler, and have it published for example on his Official Website. Consequently, regardless of whether he has a perfect family or not, he advertises his “perfect life” of a man that is “successful in life”. The image makes many people trust that he can save or make better their own life.

Before Politics

In 1975 Vladimir Putin joined the KGB, shortly after graduating from the KGB school in Leningrad. He worked in counter-intelligence nearly a year later. One of his many assignments included working undercover, often as a police officer, keeping surveillance on foreigners and diplomats in Leningrad. The work as a KGB agent certainly made him learn more about his country, but also about the history and strategic dynamics of the world’s politics which gave him the necessary background for a leader of a big country full of challenges. He had many chances to observe what makes a good image of a high-ranked politician, and that sometimes the appealing face makes stronger impact to the masses than the strong-handed politics. So he built up both at the same time.

 Political Life

In May of 1990 Putin became Advisor to the Mayor of St. Petersburg. Eight years later he became the deputy chief of the presidential staff. Between August of 1999 and May of 2000 Putin was the Deputy Prime Minister, and Prime Minister. Most importantly, after Boris Yeltsin’s surprise resignation, Putin became acting president in December of 1999 until he was elected president in May of 2000. After his terms Putin, as of 2008, is now the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation. Able to market himself as an omnipotent leader, Putin remains in a high-ranking position in the Russian Federation.

 The Role of a Leader

A big nation with a long tradition of ruthless rulers from tsars to communist revolutionaries puts many challenges in front of a modern leader. And Vladimir Putin has never shown a slightest sign of weakness. During his time of control he dealt with Russian affairs with an iron fist, and helped the economy grow – though not without issues. Under Putin’s command, Russia expanded its “Kremlin control” and kept control over political activity in the public. Even media was under a close watch, as they were given blacklists of people and topics that could not be incorporated into their coverage. Russia used it’s resources as a strategic measure in it’s foreign affairs, and during the war with Georgia. During Putin’s time in office the Russian economy has seen a high and stable growth in GDP and significant drop in unemployment and foreign debt, all the while increasing the standard of living for Russians. Though, inflation and corruption still remain as challenges of the Russian Government and economy. Although there are some other facts supporting him to obtain these results, such as rising oil and commodity prices in the world as well as the strong precautions taken after the financial crisis of 1998, it can be concluded that Putin used the circumstances of the time quite effectively to improve his leadership potentials.


The unforgettable piece of the Putin puzzle is that he has stricken Russia, and the world, with a kind of Putin-mania. Fly fishing, shooting, flying jets, practicing martial arts, and being inducted into the Hell’s Angels, Putin has become a pop-culture icon. Able to command a room, a government, and keep a person that has made him a celebrity, Putin is able to control anything at his hands through intelligent manipulation and old communist tactics while using the media to his advantage.


Being a leader is about affecting people. A leader needs a strong background in his area. Moreover a good leader should be successful in his area and be wise enough to use the circumstances of the time effectively on a bigger scale. However, not all the successful and wise people with a strong background can be leaders. In the case of Vladimir Putin we can see that a strong charisma supported by a strong hand ruling can be crucial to stay on the top for a long time.

by Daria Marjavonic, Youef Hawash, Xiao Yang and Sevgi Serpil Atalay