10 Surprising Facts About Vladimir Putin's Extraordinary Past
Russian President Vladimir Putin has stood -- often bare-chested -- at the helm of Russian pol...
Russian President Vladimir Putin has stood -- often bare-chested -- at the helm of Russian politics since 1999, rotating between the presidency and the prime minister's office.
But before his fast rise to power, Putin spent most of his life far out of the limelight.
With Putin at the center of several global crises, from Syria to Ukraine, The WorldPost takes a look back at the leader's surprising past.
1. Vladimir Putin grew up in a communal apartment shared by three families in St. Petersburg (then known as Leningrad), and he says he remembers hunting rats in the stairwell.
2. Putin's grandfather worked as a chef at Lenin’s country house and later cooked for Stalin several times.
3. He earned a black belt in judo when he was 18 and still practices the martial art, which he describes as a life philosophy.
4. Putin loves spy novels, once remarking “what amazed me most of all was how one man’s effort could achieve what whole armies could not.”
6. Putin loves his pet dogs and even brings them along to political talks, some suggest to scare fellow world leaders.
7. He is fluent in German, but not very confident in English.
8. Putin and his wife announced their divorce in 2013 during the interval of a ballet.
9. Putin has two daughters but their lives are kept a total secret. They attended college under assumed names and their professions and countries of residence are not known.
10. He is an Orthodox Christian and has expressed his faith in controversial terms, for example by placing same-sex marriage on a par with belief in Satan.