Vladimir Putin has been in power in Russia since 1999. Under his leadership, Russia has become an authoritarian and militaristic society. His ideology to push against US dominance seems to be working. To find out why this man has such immense power we need to go back to the past.
In the final years of the Soviet Union, corruption and instability were inevitable. In 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell Putin was working as a spy of the KGB in East Germany. Putin burnt all the documents of the KGB present in East Germany so that they don’t get into the hands of hostiles. In 1999 when the Soviet Union dissolved into 15 states Russia lost a huge part of its territory. Putin labeled this as a major geopolitical disaster.
The new government had to sell out public industries to manage the economic crisis. All these industries were taken over by extremely wealthy men. These men today are known as oligarchs. These oligarchs started to have a say in Russian politics. In 1991 Putin became the deputy mayor of St Petersburg. Putin used his power to help friends and allies in the private sector. He made a support network made of oligarchs, corrupt politicians, criminal organizations, and security officials.
In 1999 Boris Yeltsin appointed Putin as the Prime Minister. Putin being a staunch nationalist was against Yeltsin’s friendly treatment towards the west. Under Putin, Russia regained control over Chechnya a region of Russia that was under violent non-state actors. After this Putin’s approval rating skyrocketed. In December 1999 Yeltsin resigned and made Putin the president. In May 2000 Putin was able to win the presidential elections with 45% of votes.
Under his rule, the government started to suppress the powerful oligarchs. Anti-Putin oligarchs were punished. Mikhail Khodorkovsky once Russia’s richest man was put in prison for 14 years on charges of money laundering. After being convicted for tax evasion, money-laundering, and embezzlement, Khodorkovsky maintained his innocence and said that his conviction was “retribution for financing political parties that opposed Putin”. Corruption and limited rights have made Putin stay this long in power.
In 2008 Putin became the Prime minister of Russia as according to the constitution no one can be the president for more than two consecutive terms but there is no limit on the number of terms which a person can serve. So, in 2012 he became the president again and since has amended the constitution in his favor. Putin’s aggressive foreign and internal policies have made him the most feared man in the world.