Russian statesman; President (2000– ). A former KGB colonel, he became deputy mayor of St Petersburg (1994–96) before joining Boris Yeltsin's government. Appointed successively head of Russia's security services (1998) and Prime Minister (1999), he became Acting President on Yeltsin's resignation (31 December 1999) and was elected President in March 2000. His rule has been characterized by a reassertion of central government authority and an enhancement of presidential power. Putin's critics point to increasing government control of the media and a deteriorating human rights record as reasons to doubt his attachment to democracy. In foreign policy he has sought to reassert a Russian approach distinct from that of the West and to strengthen Russian influence over other former components of the Soviet Union. However, he suffered reverses in the Georgian Rose Revolution (2003) and the Ukrainian Orange Revolution (2004), both of which installed pro-Western governments. He was re-elected by a large majority in 2004.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — World History.