Monday, May 18, 2009
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin born in 7 October 1952 in Leningrad, USSR; now Saint Petersburg, Russia) was the second President of Russia and is the current Prime Minister of Russia as well as chairman of United Russia and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Russia and Belarus. He became acting President on 31 December 1999, when president Boris Yeltsin resigned in a surprising move, and then Putin won the 2000 presidential election. In 2004, he was re-elected for a second term lasting until 7 May 2008.
Due to constitutionally mandated term limits, Putin was ineligible to run for a third consecutive Presidential term. After the victory of his successor, Dmitry Medvedev, in the 2008 presidential elections, he was then nominated by the latter to be Russia's Prime Minister; Putin took the post on 8 May 2008.
Throughout his presidential terms and into his second term as Prime Minister, Putin has enjoyed high approval ratings amongst the Russian public. During his eight years in office, on the back of Yeltsin-era structural reforms, steadily rising oil price and cheap credit from western banks, Russia's economy bounced back from crisis, seeing GDP increase sixfold (72% in PPP), poverty cut more than half and average monthly salaries increase from $80 to $640, or by 150% in real rates.
Analysts have described Putin's economic reforms as impressive. During his presidency, Putin passed into law a series of fundamental reforms, including a flat income tax of 13 percent, a reduced profits tax, and new land and legal codes. Putin's prudent economic policies have received praise from Western economists.
At the same time, his conduct in office has been questioned by domestic political opposition, foreign governments and human rights organizations for leading the Second Chechen War, for his record on internal human rights and freedoms, and for his alleged bullying of the former Soviet Republics. A new group of business magnates controlling significant swathes of Russia's economy, such as Gennady Timchenko, Vladimir Yakunin, Yuriy Kovalchuk, Sergey Chemezov, with close personal ties to Putin, emerged according to media reports.
Corruption under Putin has increased and assumed "systemic and institutionalised form", according to a report by Boris Nemtsov as well as other sources.