Russian President Vladimir Putin is celebrating his 60th birthday on Sunday.
Putin was born October 7, 1952 in Leningrad (St. Petersburg). He served as Russian president from 2000 to 2008. Between 2008 and 2012 he served as the Russian prime minister under the presidency of Dmitry Medvedev. He was sworn in for the third presidential term following his victory in the presidential election earlier this year.
In 1975, Putin graduated from the law faculty of Leningrad State University, where he specialized in international law. In the mid 1970s, he joined the KGB and was appointed to the First Chief Directorate (PGU), an elite division in charge of intelligence abroad. Putin was posted to Germany and in the mid-1980s spent over three years as deputy director of the House of Soviet Science and Technology in Leipzig.
In the early 1990s, Putin started his career in the St. Petersburg city administration, working under influential Mayor Anatoly Sobchak, who would become his mentor. He rose to become deputy mayor from 1992 to 1994, and first deputy mayor from 1994 until 1996.
In 1996 Putin entered federal politics, when he was appointed deputy chief of the Presidential Budget and Management Office. The following year he became deputy head of the Presidential Administration and head of the Main Presidential Control Department. Two years later Putin was appointed head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the following year he became secretary of the Russian Security Council.
Putin’s rise to power continued in August 1999, when he was appointed Russian prime minister. On December 31 of the same year he took over from Boris Yeltsin as acting president and was confirmed in the post in presidential elections held in May 2000, winning 53 percent of the vote.
As the Russian Constitution prohibits a single person to occupy the post of the president for more than two consecutive terms, Putin did not run in the 2008 presidential election, but was appointed by then-President Dmitry Medvedev to the post of the country’s prime minister.
In 2012, Putin enjoyed a landslide victory in the presidential election winning almost 64 percent of the vote to take the third presidential term, which was extended from four to six years under the presidency of Medvedev.
Putin styles himself as an active leader and frequently promotes this image in the media, via a series of strong-man photographs. These include shots of him doing martial arts, fishing bare-chested and hunting exotic animals.
Putin is married and has two daughters, Yekaterina and Maria. He is also an Orthodox Christian. Baptized secretly by his mother, since the collapse of the Soviet Union he has been open about his faith.