Top 10 Facts About Russia’s Vladimir Putin

Top 10 Facts about Russia's Vladimir Putin
Top 10 Facts about Russia's Vladimir Putin

Cover photo credit: bibiphoto /

Top 10 Facts About Russia’s Vladimir Putin – The World’s Most Interesting Man

While Vladimir Putin may not play the role of Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World on television, he is the living flesh and blood persona of this larger than life character who is known for his outlandish statements and bold acts. When he is not busy invading his neighbors to the south or looking into the eyes of world leaders who pronounce that Putin is a good man, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is the “beloved” Russian leader who has been at the helm of his country for most of the last decade. Vladimir Putin is one of the world’s most interesting influential leaders, and he remains an enigma to Western leaders and their paradigms of the world. Few would mistake Vladimir Putin for being overly friendly, but he definitely has some characteristics that make him a quirky leader at the least.

10. Vladimir Putin Grew Up in a Communal Apartment Where He Hunted Rats As a Child

Vladimir Putin was a rat-killing maching
Vladimir Putin was a rat-killing maching

In the Soviet wonderland of Leningrad, the city that we affectionately refer to today as St. Petersburg, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin grew up hunting rats in the family’s communal apartment that was shared with three other families. While it is not known how the rats came out in this encounter, our money is on the young Putin. Living in a communal apartment during Soviet Russia was most likely no walk in the park, but it apparently taught young Vladimir many of the survivalist instincts that have served him well during his time in the KGB and as Russia’s leader. While other elite world leaders may have been born with a silver spoon in their mouth, Russia’s leader has had to fight for everything that he has got in this world, including apparently his meals at a very early age. His humble beginnings have surely had an impact on him as he encourages Russians to go without as the crippling economic sanctions continue to hamstring the country after their annexation or invasion of the Crimea Peninsula in Ukraine. Putin was born to his parents when they were in their late 40s, and his parents viewed him as a gift for earlier struggles. We are going to wager that if you had a young son who was willing to protect you and the neighbors from invading rats in your run down, dilapidated apartment building, the chances are good that you too would be grateful for this gift from above.

9. Putin’s Secret Personal Life Is one of the Country’s Biggest Taboo Subjects

Vladimir Putin's private life is top secret
Vladimir Putin’s private life is top secret

While Putin’s recent disappearance was a big deal for both Western and Russian commentators, it was the first time that many in the world learned of the secret personal life that the president has when he is not on the world stage. Rumor has it that Putin and his alleged girlfriend, gymnast Alina Kabaeva, had a love child in a Swiss clinic. If the rumor is true, then bravo Mr. Putin. Ms. Kabaeva is a striking young woman who is just the thing to calm your fears or stroke the ego after your interactions with other world powers. In addition to his latest lover and the baby daughter that may or may not have been born, Putin has an ex-wife Lyudmilia and two daughters who are named Yekaterina and Mariya. While it may not be surprising given what has happened to those who have dared to question Putin in the past or go against his wishes, many in the West would still be surprised to learn that Putin’s daughters have not been seen in their adult years. Aside from a photo leak a few years ago, no one knows the whereabouts of the girls, whether they are married, or what they are doing. Rumors that the girls were attending college in their dad’s hometown were quickly put to rest. We just pray that they are safe and happy wherever they are, and that they are not living in Eastern Ukraine during the current Russian non-involvement.

8. You Don’t Want to Get in a Fight with This Man

Vladimir Putin is a black belt in Judo
Vladimir Putin is a black belt in Judo

Many consider Vladimir Putin to be the world’s most intimidating leader, and there is good evidence to prove that he could win any parliamentary fight. When Mr. Putin was a mere 18 years old, he earned a black belt in judo. These martial art skills no doubt won him favor with the KGB party, and they also help explain the leader’s interesting views on the world. If you were one of the young children in his elementary school class when the sixth grader took up judo, rumor has it that you needed to watch your back or else the president may report you and your family to the authorities for dissent. Putin’s love for martial arts has extended into his time in public office, and he can regularly be seen at judo training sessions throughout St Petersburg and Moscow. In addition to judo, he also practices the Russian wrestling technique of sambo. The word literally means self defense without weapons, and the sport was developed in the early 1900s to train the mighty Red Army. The sport combines striking and grappling elements, and there is little doubt that Putin’s grip is strong enough to choke out a bear in the wild. If you ever find yourself cornered by Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, just remember that the best thing that you can do is to play dead. Russian legend has it that Chuck Norris runs scared from Putin and begs him for mercy whenever the two begin a judo or wrestling match.

7. Putin – Savior of Mankind and Television Reporters Alike

This Tiger still hates Vladimir Putin
This Tiger still hates Vladimir Putin

While it has already been well established that Putin is a brave and courageous man, his act in 2008 may be the final nail in the coffin for anyone who dares to question his masculinity. At a national park, Putin and a crew of television reporters were observing animals in the wild when a tiger decided that he was more interested in chasing after the president and the entourage of television cameras and reporters than he was in chasing Russia’s wildlife. The crew was there to film wildlife observers in their natural habitat when a tiger began to draw a little too close for Putin’s comfort. Vladimir stealthily pulled out a gun, loaded a tranquilizer dart, and took aim at the wild beast. While it is not reported where the president hit the tiger, it is safe to say that the tiger was knocked out for as long as Putin said the tiger would be kept under sedation. After taking the tiger down with the single dart, Putin helped the researchers as they measured the wild beast’s large teeth and put a tag on it in order for Putin to track his kill when it finally woke up. While a later moment of truth may have revealed that this act was staged in order to highlight some of Russia’s endangered species, we will only remember Putin’s bravery in the face of imminent danger. If you are in need of a security detail for your next African safari, it looks like Mr. Putin may have you covered.

6. Your Bucket List Is what Putin Does on a Regular Basis

Artistic rendering of Vladimir Putin being Vladimir Putin
Artistic rendering of Vladimir Putin being Vladimir Putin

In addition to taking down tigers and hunting rats, Putin has done a lot of other amazing things during his sixty plus years in Russia and the Soviet Union. His exploits are well-known, and they make for great television and publicity in his homeland where machismo is a key trait for any successful leader. Over the past few years, Putin has flown a combat jet, took a race car out for a quick spin, rode a horse with his shirtless chest sticking out in the wind and emblazoning its image onto the minds of Russian babushki everywhere, and shooting a dart from a crossbow into a gray whale in order to further scientific research. The good news for pilots of the world is that he was only on a training mission so his combat kills can not be confirmed. Putin has also gone on a diving trip to the bottom of the Black Sea where he was able to come back with a collection of ancient amphorae that were later determined to have been planted by people in Putin’s camp to make his exploits look more impressive. Soon, people in Putin’s corner will realize that his exploits do not need exaggeration or staging due to the fact that Putin is literally the second coming of the great Russian Rasputin. Putin’s charismatic and larger than life image is particularly impressive to Russians in the countryside who have little access to media outside of state controlled TV. They see Putin’s feats and are in constant amazement.

5. Putin and the KGB Years

Vladimir Putin was a member of the KGB
Vladimir Putin was a member of the KGB

While many college students dream about changing the world upon the completion of their studies, Putin took the bull by the horns and decided to sign up with the KGB. Instead of going to Wall Street to study complex derivatives and bond markets or going to work for an amazing consulting firm, Putin decided to put the education and skills learned at Leningrad State University to the test with one of the world’s most brutal spy agencies. Starting at the organization’s ground level in 1975, Putin worked his way up in the agency until he was stationed in Dresden during 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell. Putin showed his mettle and his dedication to the party at this delicate time in a story that has become famous. When the Soviet KGB chief decided to run away and avoid the angry crowd, Vladimir stood his ground and he took command of the station as the young deputy. He told the retreating commander that he had 12 rounds, and he would ensure that he left one for himself if the situation dictated that he pull the trigger. Putin stayed with the KGB for two more years until he decided to enter the political arena in 1991. While not much is known about the type of activities that Putin was engaged in with the KGB, chances are good he did some amazing things that no one would believe if he did try to tell them at a cocktail party. This is just another chapter in the life of the world’s most interesting leader.

4. Could You Hold a Conversation with Putin?

Vladimir Putin.  No English
Vladimir Putin. No English

In spite of his training with the KGB and his years of dealing with issues regarding the West and their battle against Communist ideals, it may be surprising that Vladimir Putin is not very conversant in English. While he is fluent in German and is not shy about speaking it when he is at meetings with prominent leaders like Angela Merkel, Putin does not seem inclined to pick up a copy of Rosetta Stone at the local marketplace any time soon to learn English. Using a translator whenever he has a meeting with a prominent American, Canadian, Englishman or other English speaker may be a plus for him since it allows him to control the conversation. Putin can use his extraordinary oratory skills during the conversation since he does not have to reply as quickly as he would if he were talking off of the cuff. There is even some speculation out there that Putin’s lack of command of the English language may not be due to a lack of desire to learn the language, but rather a stroke that inhibits his abilities to converse. If this is the case, the Kremlin and Russian media has made no mention of it, and chances are good they have even gone out of their way to refute it with his list of continued exploits. If you are lucky enough to hold a conversation with Putin in English, remember that you are much safer off if you simply smile, nod your head and agree that whatever he says is certainly correct.

3. The Parents of the World’s Most Interesting Man

Vladimir Putin's dad was a submariner
Vladimir Putin’s dad was a submariner

As mentioned above, Putin and his family grew up in humble accommodations that can be described as spartan at best. His father was drafted into the Navy where he served in the submarine fleet. While there is no evidence that Vladimir has commanded a submarine at any point in his life, it would not be surprising if he took this hobby up the next time that he needed to gain some positive publicity from those in his home land. Vladimir’s mother was a factory worker where she united with the proletariat to try and take the Soviet Union to industrial heights that had never been seen before. While the Soviet Union failed in this regard, Putin’s parents were able to raise a child that would go on to lead the country in the post-Soviet world. Perhaps young Putin’s only connection to the heights of the party and a foreshadowing for what would come later on in life was his grandfather’s line of work. One of the most dangerous jobs during the Soviet times was probably serving as Stalin’s cook. Instead of sending his plate back to the kitchen if the borscht was not prepared to his standard, it is just as likely that he would send the cook to Siberia where he or she would spend the rest of their lives doing hard labor at a Russian concentration camp. Vladimir’s grandfather had the courage and skill to cook for Stalin at one of his dachas. To the best of our knowledge, he lived to tell the tale.

2. Putin Does not Wax Nostalgic for Soviet Times

Vladimir Putin. Not nostalgic for the good ole days?  I'm not so sure.
Vladimir Putin. Not nostalgic for the good ole days? I’m not so sure.

In spite of his prominent role during the Soviet period and the position that he held in the KGB, Putin is supposedly not nostalgic for Soviet times like many of the nation’s elite. While Putin feels that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the “Greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century”, he supposedly does not think that it would be in the country’s best interest to restore food lines and strict rationing. While the citizens of Ukraine, Georgia and the Baltic countries may even disagree with the sentiment that Putin is not looking to restore the Soviet Union’s former glory, Putin realizes that many of the vestiges of the Soviet system simply cannot be restored due to the fact that they were inefficient and riddled with corruption. Putin loves the symbols of the Soviet Union, however, and he even made the Soviet anthem the country’s national hymn, albeit with new words. But he is pragmatic enough to realize that the Soviet dream could not work due to the fact that people are not as strong or as capable as him. While this may not be entirely true, there are few in the country who would be willing to stare a wild animal or a rabid world leader straight in the eye to defend Mother Russia. Today, Putin may not be rebuilding the Soviet Union, but he is definitely trying to expand the empire in a way that would make Ekaterina the Great proud of his accomplishments.

1. Would You Call Him Out for His Political Issues?

Vladimir Putin, not to be trifled with
Vladimir Putin, not to be trifled with

Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock.comIn spite of the country’s terrible human rights record and their poor economic performance with the exception of oil, Putin is viewed by many as a respected leader that has put Russia back on its feet. Part of this is due to the fact that Putin has tried to reunite the country’s “near-abroad”, and part of this is due to the fact that he has complete control over the media and any dissident activity that could possibly exist in the country. Putin’s rise to power during the early 2000s coincided with a decade that saw tremendous turmoil in Russia as they careened from a command economy and political dictatorship to an open market economy and democratic system. His authoritarian leadership style was welcomed by those who were seeking stability and meaning in a world that had left them behind. His legend began to grow as the country started to enjoy increased prosperity. His fight against Chechnya also garnered him popularity at home as Russians saw their own boats rise at the expense of this minority people. The problem with Putin’s rule is what can happen if you disagree with him. While there has never been an official investigation or charges brought forward, there has not been much openness in Russia, and there are several prominent opposition figures that have passed away in mysterious circumstances with ties to President Putin. While there is no evidence linking Putin to these deaths, it is never a bad idea to ensure that you are in the world’s most interesting man’s good graces.

The life of Russian President Vladimir Putin is one that you would expect to see on the big screen of an action movie that is filled with espionage, intrigue and danger. Putin is a mysterious figure to many political commentators in the West, and his leadership style is viewed with a particular sense of skepticism from these individuals. Understanding Putin and his motives is no easy matter, but perhaps that is what we should expect from an ex-KGB agent who is skilled in the art of spy craft. Putin has a side that craves attention and acceptance from those around him, but he also has the ruthless streak that is needed to ensure that no one gets in is his way. This one-of-a-kind leader is not shy when it comes time to make the difficult decisions, and he does not seem to care what public world opinion has to say.