Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (born 7 October 1952) served as the second President of the Russian Federation and is the current Prime Minister of Russia, as well as chairman of United Russia and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Russia and Belarus. He became acting President on 31 December 1999, when president Boris Yeltsin resigned in a surprising move. Putin won the 2000 presidential election and in 2004 he was re-elected for a second term lasting until 7 May 2008.
Because of constitutionally mandated term limits, Putin was ineligible to run for a third consecutive presidential term. After the victory of his successor, Dmitry Medvedev, in the 2008 presidential elections, Putin was nominated by Medvedev to be Russia's Prime Minister; Putin took the post on 8 May 2008. In September 2011, Putin officially announced that he will seek a third non-consecutive term in the 2012 presidential elections.
Putin is credited with bringing political stability and re-establishing the rule of law in the country. He successfully restored the territorial integrity of Russia in the Second Chechen War. During Putin's presidency, Russia's economy bounced back from crisis, growing for nine straight years and seeing GDP increase by 72% in PPP (sixfold in nominal), poverty decrease by more than 50%,and average monthly salaries increase from $80 to $640. These achievements were ascribed to strong macroeconomic management, important fiscal policy reforms and a confluence of high oil prices, surging capital inflows and access to low-cost external financing, and were described as impressive by analysts.
During his presidency, Putin passed into law a series of fundamental reforms, including a flat income tax of 13%, a reduced profits tax, and new land and legal codes.He put much effort into development of the energy policy of Russia, affirming Russia's position as an energy superpower. This included the renaissance of the nuclear industry in the country and the initiation of construction of several major export pipelines, including ESPO and Nord Stream, among other megaprojects in Russia.
While many reforms and actions made during the Putin presidency have been criticized by Western observers and domestic opposition as un-democratic, Putin's leadership over the return of order, stability, and progress has won him widespread popularity in Russia.Putin often supports a tough guy image in the media, demonstrating his physical capabilities and taking part in unusual or dangerous acts, such as extreme sports and interaction with wild animals. A judoka and a Champion of Leningrad in his youth, Putin has played a major role in development of sport in Russia, notably, helping the city of Sochi to win the bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics.