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—Vladimir Putin, paraphrasing a quote by French historian and statesman François Guizot
Yep, he's got his own page now.
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (born 1952) is sometimes the President, sometimes the Prime Minister of Russia. Used to be a KGB boss in East Germany. Once possibly single-handedly saved a group of people from a wild tiger. Will not stand for rogue states seeking to possess nuclear vessels (unless they're Iran).
Bad Vlad, as he is known, has also gained significant Memetic Badass stature on the intrawebs, due to being, well, a scrotum-crushing Badass. The stories of his KGB days, his expertise in Judo, and the fact that he looks like Daniel Craig help this.
Putin is very popular in Russia, with around half of the people supporting him and his party, United Russia. The main reasons people support him besides his Memetic Badass image include his successful efforts to increase Russian influence on the world stage. During his tenure, the Russian economy strengthened (although in no small part due to high oil prices) and the power of the oligarchs - or at least, those not in bed with the state - declined. However, some people claim he owes his high approval ratings to heavy-handed propaganda campaigns and ruthless persecution of opponents (like Khodorkovsky). Some more people claim that his popularity is artificially inflated by a political machine that makes Boss Tweed green with envy, and they may be right after all, judging by the vehemence of 2011 protest demonstrations. His rule is associated with high amounts of corruption and weakening of civil rights (economic rights too).
Putin is criticized abroad for his aggressive foreign policy and increasingly autocratic rule. Let's leave it at that. But Putin isn't letting the criticisms get him down, maintaining the lion's share of power after his chosen successor and current President, Dmitry Medvedev, officially took over as head of state in 2008. He ran for President again in 2012, swapping places with Medvedev, and won.
- Bald of Awesome
- The Chessmaster: Is often ascribed a Machiavellian genius of epic proportions.
- Deadpan Snarker: The term "putinisms" was coined for his most famous snarks, such as the brief "It sunk" in response to Larry King's question about the Kursk submarine. Captain Obvious reportedly died of envy when he heard that.
- False-Flag Operation: Several supposed terrorist attacks have been blamed on the FSB trying to incite terror and inspire the Russians to rally behind Putin.
- Fan Nickname: Media (outside Russia at least) frequently refer to him and Medvedev as Vova and Dima.
- He Knows Too Much: Essentially everyone who knew Putin before he became president is either working for him, living in exile, or dead.
- Kicked Upstairs: Was appointed Prime Minister in 1999, in the middle of a permanent government crisis (in a year, Russia went through four Prime Ministers), a terrorist insurgency in North Caucasus, financial instability, and President Boris Yeltsin's failing health. Prime Minister at the time was a completely thankless role that had wrecked several prominent political careers, and Putin wasn't expected to do any differently. And yes he did.
- Loophole Abuse: Has successfully gamed the shaky and unbalanced legal system left behind by Yeltsin. For instance: the Russian constitution limits a president to two consecutive terms. However, it says does not limit the number of terms per lifetime. You do the math.
- Make the Bear Angry Again: In the West, he is often cited as "rebuilding Russia's military might", indulging in "nationalist chest-thumping" and adopting an "aggressive foreign policy". His detractors in Russia claim that he's been running the army further into the ground all the time.
- Memetic Sex God: Invoked in his 2012 campaign ads.
- Mother Russia Makes You Strong
- The Napoleon: Actually quite short.
- The New Russia: One of its most prominent figures.
- Noodle Incident: What did he do during his time in the KGB?
- Nothing much. He was a mid-level bureaucrat managing some low-importance agents in the East Germany, then retired (his official rank is just Lieutenant Colonel) and went to work for his long-time friend and then a Saint Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak. It is there he started to gain political prominence, which has eventually led to him being made first a civilian head of the FSB, a KGB's successor, and then a Yeltsin's last PM.
- Omniglot: Speaks German and Russian. Is taking lessons in English and knows it well enough to converse informally (including a speech in fluent English to the International Olympic Committee), but still uses a translator for official business.
- Using an interpreter at an official meeting is required by the diplomatic protocol, because interpreters also serve as the official witnesses. Even if both meeting figures know each other's languages perfectly, their meeting without the interpreters could be only unofficial.
- Our Presidents Are Different: Cultivates a President Action image. Is in reality well-known to be President Iron. Portrayed by his detractors both in Russia and abroad as President Evil or at least President Corrupt. And always a President Scheming.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse
- A Real Man Is a Killer: Of animals at least.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The red to Dima's blue.
- Shirtless Scene: So often he's practically a Walking Shirtless Scene.
- Shout-Out: His personal vehicle has the license plate number 007.
- As if you didn't think he was a Bond villain already.
- Tears of Joy: His tears during a rally after his victory in the 2012 elections were captured on camera and quickly went memetic.