Vladimir Putin was a KGB spy working in East Germany when the wall collapsed in 1989. The Soviet Union became 15 states known as the Russian Federation. Putin along with co-patriots found themselves outside of Russian territory (Ellis, 2017). Putin later described the event as, “the major geopolitical event of the century.” (Ellis, 2017).
Forty-five thousand businesses owned by the communist government had to be sold and were bought by men who many had become instant billionaires. These new business owners became known at the Russian oligarchy and became Putin’s allies to power.
At the time Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first president, was weak, unable to defend against terror attacks, corruption, and wouldn’t stand up to the US. Putin was made a deputy mayor in 1999 of St. Petersburg. While in office he was seen as an ally to the oligarchy where he restructured licensing for them to gain monopolies and assisted the growing criminal organizations launder money. These actions moved Putin to the forefront of Russian politics and the unpopular Yeltsin appointed Putin his prime minister in 1999. During his tenure his popularity raised as he defeated the Chechen rebels and killing 80,000.
Yeltsin resigned at the end of 1999 and made Putin interim president and in 2000 he was elected president. The former spy was paranoid and skeptical of the West (Ellis, 2017). His main concern was the former Soviet republics would join NATO and bring them closer to the US and their allies. He invaded Georgia in 2008 with a strategy that included pro-Russian hacking to use propaganda and fallacies to gain support. When faced with protestors over the action, Putin sent in the Russian military and acted similarly in Ukraine, conquering the Crimean Peninsula. He continues to show power over Western influenced states by intervening in Syria when they appeared to be losing to US supported rebels.
With the oligarchs continued support, Putin has been able to influence Russia’s “free” press and has eliminated any civil institutions showing political opposition (Ellis, 2017). As a matter of fact, journalist Politkovskaya and political dissident Noronenkov were murdered and their bodies never found.
Currently there are accusations Russia meddled in the 2016 US election. In addition, under Putin’s rule Russia’s population and life expectancy is shrinking and the economy has been in a long recession. However, the Russian people continue to support Putin.
Ellis, S. (2017, March 27). From spy to president: the rise of Vladimir Putin. Retrieved November 19, 2017, from https://www.vox.com/videos/2017/3/27/15052666/putin-russia-spy-president-vladimir