PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA
Vladimir Putin was born on October 1, 1952, in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia. An only child, his father was a foreman in a metal factory and his mother was a homemaker. Putin lived with his parents in an apartment with two other families. Though religion was not permitted in the Soviet Union, the former country which was made up of Russia and other smaller states, his mother secretly had him baptized as an Orthodox Christian.
Though a small child, Putin could hold his own in fights thanks to martial arts classes. By the age of sixteen he was a top-ranked expert at sambo, a Russian combination of judo and wrestling. By the time he was a teenager Putin had begun to display the ambition that he later became known for, and he attended a respected high school, School 281, which only accepted students with near-perfect grades. The institution was the only one in Russia to stress chemistry, which was Putin's interest.
However, he soon moved toward liberal arts and biology. Putin played handball and worked at the school radio station, where he played music by the Beatles and other Western rock bands. Fascinated with spy movies as a teen, he aspired to work for the KGB, the Russian secret service.
On 28 July 1983 Putin married Kaliningrad-born Lyudmila Shkrebneva, at that time an undergraduate student of the Spanish branch of the Philology Department of the Leningrad State University and a former Aeroflot flight attendant. They have two daughters, Mariya Putina (born 28 April 1985 in St. Petersburg) and Yekaterina Putina (born 31 August 1986 in Dresden). The daughters grew up in East Germany and attended the German School in Moscow until his appointment as Prime Minister. After that they studied international economics at the Finance Academy in Moscow, although it was not officially reported due to security... [continues]
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