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Putin the Longest-Serving Leader in Modern Russia to Focus on Domestic Matters

Russian President Vladimir Putin winning his biggest ever election victory with 76.69% votes on March 19, 2018 will extend his political dominance of Russia by six years to 2024. If his term as prime minister is counted, Putin surpasses Leonid Brezhnev – whose 18-year reign ended in 1982, as the longest-serving leader in Russia’s modern history. And that will also make Putin the longest-serving ruler since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin – who ruled for 29 years and 43 days – from January 21, 1924 until his death on March 5, 1953 and served as Premier from May 6, 1941 to March 5, 1953.

  • Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin born on October 7, 1952 in Leningrad, Russia was married to Lyudmila Putina in 1983.
  • Putin is serving as the current President of the Russian Federation since May 7, 2012. He was Prime Minister of Russia from 2008 to 2012; previously he was President from 2000 to 2008; and he was Prime Minister of Russian Federation from 1999 until 2000.
  • Putin was a KGB foreign intelligence officer for 16 years, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before retiring in 1991 to enter politics in Saint Petersburg.
  • He moved to Moscow in 1996 and joined President Boris Yeltsin’s administration, rising quickly through the ranks and becoming Acting President on December 31, 1999, when Yeltsin resigned.

Putin’s securing fourth presidential term following his sweeping victory has raised Western fears of spiralling confrontation as it has come at a time when Russia stands increasingly isolated internationally, which began with Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and continuing conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, besides allegations of cyber-attacks and meddling in foreign elections; and poisoning in Britain of a former Russian spy and his daughter.

However, Putin struck a softer tone towards the West and said that he had no desire for an arms race and would do everything he could to resolve differences with other countries. He expressed his desire to focus on domestic, not international, matters, and to try to raise living standards by investing more in education, infrastructure and health while reducing defence spending.

Putin at the end of his first press conference after the elections retorted tersely, “Everything flows, everything changes,” in responding to Kremlin correspondent Andrei Kolesnikov’s question, “In the coming six years, will we see a new Putin or an old one?”  But in the days after Putin’s win, Russia observers have expressed scepticism that things in the country will indeed “flow and change”.

Putin’s comments are likely to be heard with some scepticism in the West following years of confrontation, as during his bellicose election campaign, Putin had unveiled new nuclear weapons which could strike almost any point in the world.

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