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Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin has been the leader of Russia since 2000 (as president until 2008, as prime minister between 2008–2012, and as president again thereafter). Under his leadership, Russia’s economy recovered somewhat from the horrors of Boris Yeltsin’s reign, but it remains an intensely unequal neoliberal economy, characterised by high levels of corruption and cronyism, with economic power largely concentrated in the hands of a small number of oligarchs.

Putin began his career in the KGB and has become increasingly authoritarian and tyrannical over his time in power (see treatment of dissidents in Russia for more on this). He is a social conservative, and his reign has seen LGBTI Russians become sharply oppressed (which is not to say that Russia was a paradise for them before). Putin is also a “Great-Russian chauvinist” nationalist, seeing neighbouring nations like Ukraine or Belarus as “little brothers” of Russia, with no real right to disagree with their “big brother” or strike out on their own. This belief is one of the things that led to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, which had been preceded by the Russian annexation of Crimea and its encouragement of separatist movements in eastern Ukraine in the 2014 Ukraine conflict.