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250px-Vladimir Putin official portrait

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (Russian: Владимир Владимирович Путин (help·info), IPA [vlɐˈdʲimʲɪr vlɐˈdʲimʲɪrəvʲɪtɕ ˈputʲɪn]; born 7 October 1952) was the second President of Russia 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, and then Putin won the 2000 presidential election. In 2004, he was re-elected for a second term lasting until 7 May 2008.

Due to 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, he was then nominated by the latter to be Russia's Prime Minister; Putin took the post on 8 May 2008.

Throughout his presidential terms and into his second term as Prime Minister, Putin has enjoyed high approval ratings from the Russian public. He is credited with bringing political stability and re-establishing the rule of law. During his eight years in office, due 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, Russia's economy bounced back from crisis, seeing GDP increase by 72% in PPP(sixfold in nominal) , poverty cut more than half and average monthly salaries increase from $80 to $640, or by 150% in real rates. Analysts have described Putin's economic reforms as impressive. During his presidency, Putin passed into law a series of fundamental reforms, including a flat income tax of 13 percent, a reduced profits tax, and new land and legal codes. At the same time, his conduct in office has been questioned by domestic political opposition, foreign governments and human rights organizations for leading the Second Chechen War, for his record on internal human rights and freedoms, and for his alleged bullying of the former Soviet Republics. A new group of business magnates controlling significant swathes of Russia's economy -- such as Gennady Timchenko, Vladimir Yakunin, Yuriy Kovalchuk, Sergey Chemezov, all with close personal ties to Putin -- emerged according to media reports.

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