Some people love him, some people hate him, and some don’t know what to make of him. Vladimir Putin has been the subject of many political debates concerning Russia and among the Russian journalists. He is known for carefully cultivating an image of macho daredevil and holding political opinions that are in contrast with western politics. Whatever be the case, here are some facts about Vladimir Putin that you might find interesting.
1. At age 12 he started boxing and moved on to judo, karate and sambo, a Soviet martial art.
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Putin is known to promote fitness and a healthy way of life among Russians. He is also known to promote many sports including skiing, badminton, cycling and fishing. Putin, himself, has a lot of experience when it comes to sports and is a martial artist. He started training in sambo when a teenager, then switched to judo. He also practises karate. In Leningrad, now Saint Petersburg, he also participated and won competitions in both sambo and judo.(source)
2. There is a webcomic called SuperPutin based on Putin, which depicts him as a superhero.
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The comics were created by Sergei Kalenik, a PR freelancer, who reportedly said it wasn’t a paid job, though many critics were quick to say it was another publicity stunt. One of the comic strips from Super Putin depicts him fighting dark zombie-like opposition forces while he receives help from “nano-human” Medvedev. Putin can be seen as a commando-style protagonist in a computer game on Russia’s social networking site called Vkontakte.(source)
3. Vladimir Putin has a 9th degree black belt, Chuck Norris has an 8th degree.
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Not stopping at achieving the 8th degree, Putin went on to have his 9th. On his visit to South Korea, the Russian leader was honored with a ninth-degree black belt from the president of the World Taekwondo Federation, which puts him a step above Chuck Norris. Putin, however, said he wasn’t sure he deserved it and to “let’s call it our campaign to popularize this wonderful martial art. Russia will do its best to contribute to its popularity at home”.(source)
4. For 16 years Putin worked as an officer in the KGB (the Committee for State Security), spying for the secret police agency in East Germany between 1975 and 1991.
Putin joined the KGB in 1975 and after training he was worked in the Second Chief Directorate and later transferred to First Chief Directorate where he monitored several foreigners and consular officials in Saint Petersburg. After the collapse of the Communist East German government he worked with the International Affairs section of Saint Petersburg State University, where he watched the student body and looked for new KGB recruits. In 1991, he resigned as Lieutenant Colonel and as the coup d’etat against then Soviet President began, Putin decided to choose against communism.(source)
5. T-shirts bearing images of the Russian leader, as well Putin canned food, Putinka Vodka and Gorbusha Putina caviar, are sold throughout Russia.
The name Putin also went on to become a brand. There are several products that use his name with the hope of attracting more attention. An award-winning Russian vodka made by Moscow Distillery Crystal is know as Putinka, and then there is PuTin canned food that has a T shaped sword in the middle of its logo that resembles his name, Gorbusha Putina caviar and a collection of T-shirts with his image on them.(source)
6. There is a mountain called Vladimir Putin Peak, named after Putin, in Kyrgyzstan.
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One of the mountains belonging to the Tian Shan mountain range in Kyrgyzstan was named after the Russian leader, along with two other peaks named after Lenin and Communism. The vast mountain ranges are fossil-packed, rocky and rugged faced and used to find it hard to attract climbers. But it changed after the over commercialization of the routes in Nepal and the Alps, the mountains have become an excellent choice for climbers who needed affordable options.(source)
7. He once caught a 21 kg pike while fishing. It was reportedly one of the biggest in the world.
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One of his many exploits includes catching a 21 kg pike in a Siberian lake. Putin was holidaying in a remote part of Russia’s Tuva republic in southern Siberia along with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, where he and Medvedev spent more than 24 hours chatting, fishing and swimming together. Apparently, it had take the Russian president over three minutes to reel it in and they made fishcakes with the pike.(source)
8. Putin helped to put out wildfires in the Russian countryside by co-piloting an aircraft.
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When fires in western Russia suffocated Moscow with smog for two weeks, Putin climbed into a firefighting plane and dumped water on two of the hundreds of wildfires. The fires have caused $15 billions worth of damage and left thousands of people homeless. The Russian president also called the soldiers to help the firefighting brigades and went to some of the villages affected by the fire promising the people new homes.(source)
9. Vladimir Putin released an instructional martial arts DVD called “Let’s Learn Judo with Vladimir Putin”.
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Putin, who is also a former Judo champion along with being a black belt, has released the instructional DVD on his birthday. It was made in collaboration between Putin and other Judo fighters, including former world and Olympic champion Yasuhiro Yamashita. The DVD also features Putin talking about the history and philosophy of martial arts. He is also quoted to say that “without sports, it’s impossible to speak of a healthy way of life, about the health of the nation as such”.(source)
10. When Putin went to meet a Persian leopard, it attacked the journalists by scratching one and biting the knee of another, but cuddled quite happily with him.
11. He has a pet black Labrador Retriever, which he once used to scare German chancellor Angela Merkel.
The full name of Putin’s dog Konni is Connie Paulgrave, and rumor has it that she was named after the former U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. Putin is quite fond of his dog, and is seen quite often with her in public, even taking the dog to meetings with staff or world leaders visiting Russia. During such meetings, his dog likes to enjoy the snacks that some journalists often share, and once when she wasn’t invited to a meeting, she made her way to the room and ate all the biscuits and jellied desserts meant for the dignitaries.
Putin has also used his dog politically, once bragging to George W. Bush that Konni is bigger and meaner than his dogs. He even took his dog to a meeting with German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who has a fear of dogs because she was severely bitten by one when she was young.(source)
12. In 2010, Putin took a test drive of a Renault Formula One car a racing track in Leningrad. He reached the maximum speed of 240 km per hour.
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In one of his displays of machismo, Putin drove a bright yellow Renault Formula One car while wearing a helmet with Russian flag and Russia’s national symbol, a double-headed eagle. It wasn’t his only display of vehicular expertise. He has also previously piloted a strategic bomber aircraft, drove four-wheeled Lada military jeeps and Harley-Davidson motorcycles with biker gangs.(source)