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An ordinary family

Vladimir Putin was born on October 7, 1952 in Leningrad. “I come from an ordinary family, and this is how I lived for a long time, nearly my whole life. I lived as an average, normal person and I have always maintained that connection,” Mr Putin recalls.


Vladimir Putin’s mother, Maria Shelomova, was a very kind, benevolent person.

“We lived simply – cabbage soup, cutlets, pancakes, but on Sundays and holidays my Mom would bake very delicious stuffed buns [pirozhki] with cabbage, meat and rice, and curd tarts [vatrushki],” Mr Putin says.

His mother did not approve of his decision to do judo. “Every time I went to a practice session, she would grumble, ‘He’s off to his fights again.’” Things changed after Vladimir Putin’s coach visited his home and told his parents about what he did and what he achieved; the family’s attitude toward this sport changed.

”My mother baked some very delicious stuffed buns – with cabbage, meat and rice, – and curd tarts.“ – Vladimir Putin.


His father, Vladimir Putin, participated in the war. In the 1950s, he worked as a security guard and later as a foreman at the carriage works.

“My father was born in St Petersburg in 1911. When World War I began, life in St Petersburg became hard, people were starving, so the entire family moved to Pominovo, a village in the Tver Region my grandmother came from. Incidentally, my relatives still vacation in the house where my grandparents lived. It was in Pominovo that my father met my mother, and they got married at the age of 17.”

Post-war years

After the war, the Putin family moved into a room in a communal apartment [kommunalka], in a typical St Petersburg dwelling house on Baskov Lane. Vladimir Putin recalls, “It was a building with a well-like yard. Fifth floor. No elevator. Before the war [World War II], my parents occupied half of the house in Peterhof and were very proud of the living standards they had achieved then. It wasn’t really much, but it seemed like an ultimate dream to them.”


A troublemaker, not a Pioneer

In 1960–1968, Vladimir Putin attended Primary School No. 193 in Leningrad. After the eighth grade, he entered High School No. 281, a chemistry-focused magnet school under the aegis of a technology institute, completing his studies there in 1970.

”I was always late for my first class, so even in winter I didn’t have time to dress properly.“ – Vladimir Putin.


From first and eighth grade, Vladimir Putin studied at School No. 193. As he recalls, he was a troublemaker, not a Pioneer.

His teacher, Vera Gurevich, recalls, “In the fifth grade, he still hadn’t found himself yet, but I could feel the potential, the energy and the character in him. I saw that he had a great deal of interest in language; he picked it up easily. He had a very good memory and an agile mind.

I thought, something good will come of this boy, so I decided to give him more attention, to distract him from the boys on the streets.”

A search for priorities

Until the sixth grade, Vladimir Putin was not very interested in studying, but his teacher Vera Gurevich saw that he could do better and get higher grades.

She met with his father asking him to influence his son. It did not help much, but Vladimir Putin himself radically changed his attitude toward his studies when he was in the sixth grade.

Mr Putin notes, “Other priorities were emerging. I was asserting myself through sports, achieving something. There were new goals, too. No doubt, this had an enormous effect.”

Potential, energy, character

In the sixth grade, Vladimir Putin decided that he needed to achieve something in life, so he began getting good grades, which came easily to him. He was allowed to join the Young Pioneers organisation, and almost immediately became the head of a Pioneer detachment in his class.

“It became clear that street smarts were not enough, so I began doing sports. But even that was not enough for maintaining my status, so to speak, for very long. I realised that I also needed to study well,” Vladimir Putin says.


Higher Education

Leningrad State University and KGB school

In 1970, Vladimir Putin became a student of law department at Leningrad State University, earning his degree in 1975. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Mr Putin studied at KGB School No. 1 in Moscow.

”Even before I finished high school, I wanted to work in intelligence. Granted, soon after, I decided I wanted to be a sailor, but then I wanted to do intelligence again. In the very beginning, I wanted to be a pilot,” Vladimir Putin recalls.

A sailor? A pilot? An intelligence officer.

Even before he finished school, Vladimir Putin wanted to work in intelligence. He went to a public reception office of the KGB Directorate to find out how to become an intelligence officer. There, he was told that first, he would have to either serve in the army or complete college, preferably with a degree in law.

“And from that moment, I began preparing myself to enter the law department at Leningrad State University,” Mr Putin notes.

New goals, new values

In 1970, Vladimir Putin was admitted to law department at Leningrad State University. “We had a class of 100 people, and only 10 of them entered immediately after high school, the rest had already completed military service. So for us, the high-school graduates, only one out of 40 was admitted. I got four out of five for the essay, but top marks for everything else, so I passed.”

“When I began studying at the university, new goals and new values emerged. I mainly focused on studies, and began seeing sports as secondary. But, of course, I trained on a regular basis and participated in nation-wide competitions, almost out of habit.”

State Security Agencies

After graduating from Leningrad State University, Putin was assigned to work in the state security agencies. “My perception of the KGB was based on the idealistic stories I heard about intelligence.”

He was first appointed to the Directorate secretariat, then the counterintelligence division, where he worked for about five months. Half a year later, he was sent to operations personnel retraining courses.

Mr Putin spent another six months working in the counterintelligence division.

That was when he drew attention from foreign intelligence officers. “Fairly quickly, I left for special training in Moscow, where I spent a year. Then I returned again to Leningrad, worked there in the First Main Directorate – the intelligence service. That directorate had branches in major cities of the Soviet Union, including Leningrad. I worked there for about four and a half years.”

Then Mr Putin returned again to Moscow to study at the Andropov Red Banner Institute, where he was trained for his trip to Germany.


Wedding and Germany

There was something about him…

Having completed his studies at the Andropov Institute, Vladimir Putin left for East Germany in 1985 and worked there until 1990. But before he left, another major event in his life took place.

Wife Lyudmila

Vladimir Putin met Lyudmila Shkrebneva through a mutual friend. Lyudmila worked as a flight attendant on domestic airlines and had come to Leningrad for three days with a friend.

“I was already working in the First Main Directorate in St Petersburg, when a friend of mine called and invited me to the Arkady Raikin theatre. He said he already had the tickets, and mentioned there would be two young ladies joining us. So we went to the performance and the young ladies did join us. The next day, we went to the theatre again, but it was now my turn to buy the tickets. And the same thing happened on the third day. I then began dating one of the girls. I became friends with Lyudmila, my future wife,” Mr Putin recalls.

“There was something about Vladimir that attracted me. Three or four months later, I already knew this was the man I needed,” Lyudmila recalls. Three years after their first meeting, Vladimir proposed to Lyudmila. “I knew that if I did not marry for another two or three years, I would not marry at all. True, I was used to life as a bachelor, but Lyudmila changed that,” Mr Putin admits. They got married on July 28, 1983.

Vladimir and Lyudmila Putin were married until 2013.


In 1985, before their departure for Germany, Vladimir and Lyudmila Putin welcomed their first daughter, Maria. Their second daughter, Katerina, was born in 1986, in Dresden.

Both girls were named in honour of their grandmothers, Maria Putina and Yekaterina Shkrebneva.

According to their mother, Lyudmila, Mr Putin loves his daughters very much. “Not all fathers are as loving with their children as he is. And he has always spoiled them, while I was the one who had to discipline them,” she says.


In 1985–1990, Vladimir Putin worked in East Germany. He served at the local intelligence office in Dresden. Over the course of his service, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and to the position of senior assistant to the head of the department. In 1989, he was awarded the bronze medal issued in the German Democratic Republic, For Faithful Service to the National People’s Army.

“My work was going well. It was a normal thing to be promoted just once while working abroad. I was promoted twice,” Mr Putin says.


From assistant to the rector of Leningrad State University to Acting President

Leningrad – Moscow

After returning to Leningrad from Germany in 1990, Vladimir Putin became assistant to the rector of Leningrad State University in charge of international relations. In 1996, he and his family moved to Moscow, where his political career began.

Leningrad – St Petersburg

After returning to Leningrad from Dresden in 1990, Vladimir Putin found new job as assistant to the rector of Leningrad State University, in which position he was responsible for international relations. “I was happy to find work at Leningrad State University,” he later recalled. “I took the job hoping at the same time to write my Ph.D. thesis and, perhaps, stay on and work there afterwards. That was how I ended up, in 1990, becoming assistant to the rector in charge of international relations.”

Soon he also became an adviser to the chairman of the Leningrad City Council.

Starting in June 1991, Putin began work as Chairman of the Committee for International Relations at the St Petersburg City Hall, and from 1994, concurrently held the position of Deputy Chairman of the St Petersburg City Government.

After starting work at the City Hall, Putin sent in his resignation from the KGB.

Moscow. Prime Minister with prospects

In 1996, Vladimir Putin moved with his family to Moscow, where he was offered the post of Deputy Chief of the Presidential Property Management Directorate. “I would not say that I did not like Moscow, but simply that I liked St Petersburg more. But Moscow was very obviously a European city,” Putin recalled.

His career rise was rapid. In March 1997, he was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office and Chief of Main Control Directorate. Busy with work as he was, he still found time to defend his doctoral thesis on economics at the St Petersburg State Mining Institute. In May 1998, Putin was made First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office, and in July 1998, he was appointed Director of the Federal Security Service. From March 1999, he also held the position of Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation.

In August 1999, Putin was appointed Prime Minister of the Russian Government. The post was offered to him by then President Boris Yeltsin.

As Putin later recalled, “Mr Yeltsin invited me to come and see him and said that he wanted to offer me the prime minister’s job. <…> Incidentally, he never used the word ‘successor’ in his conversation with me then, but spoke of becoming ‘prime minister with prospects’, and said that if all went well, he thought this could be possible.”

Putin described his time in the prime minister’s office as an honour and an interesting experience. “I thought then, if I can get through a year that will already be a good start. If I can do something to help save Russia from falling apart then this would be something to be proud of.”

Acting President of the Russian Federation

Shortly before the New Year of 2000 rolled in, President of Russia Boris Yeltsin proposed that Vladimir Putin become Acting President.

“Two or three weeks before New Year, Mr Yeltsin called me to his office and said that he had decided to step down. This meant I would have to become Acting President,” Putin recalled.

Putin described it as not an easy decision to make, given that it is “a rather heavy load to bear”.

“I had my own thoughts, my own reasoning, but at the same time, there was another logic I had to consider too. Fate was offering me the chance to work for the country at the very highest level and it would have been foolish to say, no, I’m going to go and sell sunflower seeds instead, or go into private legal practice. I could do all those other things later after all, and so I decided that this had to come first, and everything else later,” Putin explained his choice.

On December 31, 1999, Vladimir Putin became Acting President of the Russian Federation.


President and Prime Minister

You always need to think about the future, always look ahead

Vladimir Putin was elected President of Russia on March 26, 2000, and was re-elected to a second term on March 14, 2004. On May 8, 2008, he was appointed Prime Minister by presidential executive order.

President of the Russian Federation

Vladimir Putin was elected President of Russia on March 26, 2000. He was officially inaugurated on May 7, 2000.

In his inauguration speech he said, “We have common aims, we want our Russia to be a free, prosperous, flourishing, strong and civilized country, a country that its citizens are proud of and that is respected internationally.” He added that he would be guided solely by the interests of the state. “Perhaps it will not be possible to avoid mistakes, but what I can promise and what I do promise is that I will work openly and honestly”, Putin said.

”I consider it to be my sacred duty to unify the people of Russia, to rally citizens around clear aims and tasks, and to remember every day and every minute that we have one Motherland, one people and one future.“ – Vladimir Putin

Second presidential term

Vladimir Putin was re-elected to a second presidential term on March 14, 2004. In his Address to the Federal Assembly on May 26, 2004, Putin said, “Our goals are very clear. We want high living standards and a safe, free and comfortable life for the country. We want a mature democracy and a developed civil society. We want to strengthen Russia’s place in the world. But our main goal, I repeat, is to bring about a noticeable rise in our people’s prosperity.

We have better knowledge today of our own potential and we know what resources we have at our disposal. We understand the obstacles we could face in reaching the goals we have set and we are actively modernising the state in order to make sure that its functions correspond to the present stage of Russia’s development – that of achieving a real rise in living standards.”

Prime Minister of the Russian Government

On May 8, 2008, Vladimir Putin was appointed Russian Prime Minister by presidential executive order.

“Russia has grown much stronger in recent years,” Putin said at a session of the Russian Federation State Duma. “We have enough resources to tackle still more ambitious tasks and goals. The important thing is to make competent, effective and proper use of the accumulated potential. For my part I am ready to exert every effort to achieve the goals set, to deliver new and significant results for the prosperity of our country and for the sake of a worthy life for Russian citizens.”


In the Prime Minister’s job

People must be the centre of attention

People are at the centre of the Prime Minister’s attention. Putin said that the authorities must draw their support solely from the Russian people, and if this support is absent, the authorities have no place in power. In November 2011, Vladimir Putin was proposed as a candidate for President of the Russian Federation.

Taking personal control

Vladimir Putin took the reconstruction of homes and compensation for victims of the wildfires in the summer of 2010 under his personal control.

Round-the-clock monitoring was set up at the sites where new housing was being built for the fire victims. Video cameras working 24 hours a day were installed at all of the main sites. The construction work could be followed on monitors at the Government House, at Vladimir Putin’s residence, and on the Government website. Families of those killed by the fires received 1 million rubles [$33,000] in compensation, and each member of families affected by the fires received 100,000 rubles. All of the people whose homes were destroyed received new homes or apartments by the start of winter, or, at their request, received monetary compensation. A total of 2,200 families built new homes.

Social measures

Vladimir Putin is an active supporter of measures to develop the agricultural sector. “Step by step, we are becoming full-fledged masters of our own food and agricultural markets. This is the result of our work to develop the country’s agricultural sector, and is the visible fruit of the hard work put in by our grain growers, livestock farmers, and processing companies,” he said.

Support for military personnel and teachers is another priority for Putin.

In the President’s job, 2012–2018

In November 2011, the delegates at United Russia’s 12th party congress approved Vladimir Putin as their candidate in the presidential election.

Vladimir Putin was elected President of Russia on March 4, 2012.

May Executive Orders

On the day the President took office – May 12, 2012, he signed 11 executive orders designed to address the most important and sensitive issues people were facing, including increasing salaries for public-sector employees, while also improving the quality of healthcare, education and social services; improving housing, including for families with many children and those living in unfit buildings; streamlining the work of government bodies and organisations providing municipal and government services.

The Commission for Monitoring Targeted Socioeconomic Development Indicators, chaired by the President, oversees the implementation of instructions issued in follow-up to the May Executive Orders.

Sochi Olympics 2014

On February 7, 2014, Vladimir Putin declared the Sochi Winter Olympic Games open. In preparation for the Olympics, Sochi built 11 sports venues with a total capacity of 200,000 people. All in all, 380 buildings and structures were built for the Olympics, including the coastal and mountain clusters, transport, energy and hotel infrastructure.

As many as 2,876 athletes from 88 countries competed in the Olympics. This was the first time Russia hosted the Winter Olympic Games.

Crimea becomes part of the Russian Federation

On March 16, 2014, the people of Crimea voted in a referendum, with 96 percent supporting reunification with Russia. On March 18, the President addressed the two chambers of the Federal Assembly in the St George Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace, asking the parliamentarians to consider a Constitutional Law on Admitting the Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol to the Russian Federation. The agreement on admitting Crimea to the Russian Federation was signed right after the President’s speech.

“In people’s hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an inseparable part of Russia. This firm conviction is based on truth and justice and was passed from generation to generation, over time, under any circumstances, despite all the dramatic changes our country went through during the entire 20th century,” Vladimir Putin said in his address to members of the State Duma, the Federation Council, heads of Russian regions and civil society representatives.

On December 6, 2017, during a visit to GAZ Group Automobile Plant in Nizhny Novgorod the President announced his intention to stand in the upcoming presidential election.

Following the election held on March 18, 2018, Vladimir Putin was re-elected as the President of the Russian Federation.



Learning new things

What Vladimir Putin enjoys about different sports is novelty and the desire to promote an active lifestyle. “I just love everything new. I enjoy learning new things. The process itself gives me great pleasure,” he says.

Sambo and Judo

Vladimir Putin firmly believes that martial arts teach such knowledge, abilities and skills that every politician needs. Putin believes that judo trains both your body and your mind. It develops strength, reaction, endurance, teaches self-control, the ability to feel the moment, to see the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, to strive for the best results and constantly work on improving oneself.

Putin has been practicing judo since he was 11 years old. “I was just a boy when I started judo. I became deeply interested in martial arts, their special philosophy, culture, relations with the opponent and the rules of combat,” says Putin, who holds the title of Master of Sports in judo. In September 2006 he became the honorary president of the European Judo Union, and in 2010 he received an honorary doctorate in judo from South Korea’s Yong In university.

Putin is also multiple champion of St Petersburg in Sambo and Master of Sports in Sambo. He holds a black belt in karate.


Vladimir Putin became interested in mountain skiing a long time ago. He admits he truly enjoys skiing. “This is a dynamic sport that requires mastering a technique and is a great opportunity for an active holiday, to stay fit and get a boost of energy and good spirits,” Putin says. Leonid Tyagachev, a Soviet skiing champion, says Putin’s technique is very stable and he descends from the mountain on a very high speed.

Putin prefers Russian ski slopes. In 2009 he went skiing on the slopes in the Moscow Region along with the president of an Austrian ski resort Karl Schranz. In 2011 he visited the Olympic venue in Krasnaya Polyana in Sochi, where he also made a couple of skiing runs.

Ice hockey

In February 2011, Vladimir Putin promised to the participants of the Winter Universiade in Turkey that he would learn to skate. “I thought I just wouldn’t be able to do it. I tried to learn skating only once, when I was doing a lot of martial arts,” Putin says. But, since he made the promise, he started training.

He spent two months training under famous hockey player Alexei Kasatonov. Their sessions often happened after midnight, when Vladimir Putin finished his working day. By mid-April he felt confident on skates, and on April 15, 2011 he took part in a training session of young hockey players for the Golden Puck final, where he even scored a few goals.

Animal protection
Vladimir Putin enjoys watching animals in their natural habitat and taking part in scientific projects. He is Chairman of the Russian Geographical Society’s Board of Trustees, and is actively engaged in the protection of rare species by overseeing the respective programmes. The animal species under his personal patronage are the Amur tiger, white whale, polar bear and snow leopard.

“I am deeply impressed by the very mission of the Russian Geographical Society: “To inspire people to love Russia.” This shows the desire to help the Russian public and the entire world discover Russia’s beauty, diversity and originality, and to present its authentic image. I welcome the opportunity to participate personally in the work of the Russian Geographical Society, helping implement its impressive, meaningful projects,” Putin said.

In August 2008, Putin visited the Ussuri Nature Reserve and put a collar with a satellite tracker on an Amur tiger. He also took part in a scientific expedition to study the beluga whale. In the summer of 2009, when he was in the Khabarovsk Territory, Putin put a collar with a GLONASS satellite tracker on the beluga whale named Dasha. In April 2010, during a trip to Franz Josef Land, he joined an expedition of scientists studying and restoring the population of polar bears in the Arctic and put a tracker on one of the bears. In 2011, Vladimir Putin endorsed the snow leopards research programme.

Behind the wheel

The first car

Vladimir Putin got his first car when he was in his third year at university. His mother won a Zaporozhets on a lottery ticket. The parents gave the car to Vladimir. Today Putin prefers Russian cars.

Lada Kalina

Vladimir Putin has covered thousands of kilometres behind the wheel of a Lada Kalina, equipped with GLONASS and other modern equipment. On August 27, 2010, he drove his Lada Kalina down the new Chita-Khabarovsk highway. When he was asked if the Lada Kalina was a good vehicle for the Far Eastern roads, Putin said that it was a great match. “I was surprised – it’s a really good car. I didn’t expect it to be this good. It’s quiet, fairly powerful for its size and weight, and very comfortable. It has everything: air conditioning, airbags, GLONASS and low petrol consumption. In general, it is very convenient. It’s a good car,” Vladimir Putin said.


Vladimir Putin has always shown by personal example that people should buy Russian cars. For instance, in 2005 he drove President George W. Bush around in his 1956 ivory-coloured Volga (GAZ-21). In May 2009, Putin drove that same car to the ceremony of laying the first stone at the temple complex in the Odintsovo district, Moscow Region.


Vladimir Putin bought a Niva in the spring of 2009. The camouflage-coloured three-door Niva is impressive: it has forged rims, off-road tires, and the GLONASS navigation system. The Niva is permanently kept at the residence in Sochi. “We went for a drive in the mountains together with our curators from the International Olympic Committee, Gilbert Felli and Jean-Claude Killy. They liked it, and so did I,” Putin says. Once he drove the Niva to a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to Putin, Niva is a simple and reliable off-road vehicle.


In October 2018, Vladimir Putin held talks with President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Sochi. Following the official events, the two leaders visited the Sochi Autodrom race track, where the President of Russia showed his Egyptian counterpart the new car manufactured under the Russian brand Aurus.

The Aurus is Russia's new car brand, which was developed as part of the Unified Modular Platform project (Cortege).

The models were named after the Moscow Kremlin's Senatskaya, Komendantskaya and Arsenalnaya towers. The limousine and the standard length sedan are both named Senat; the SUV is known as Komendant, and the minivan is called Arsenal.

The Senat and the Arsenal are used in the Presidential cortege. The SUV prototype was finished by the end of 2018, while the Komendant model will be completed in 2019–2020, including testing and certification. The Aurus Senat limousine was first used at the presidential inauguration ceremony on May 7, 2018.


The passion for active leisure pursuits began in his youth

Vladimir Putin manages to find the time for holidays, away from running the country. But because it happens very rarely, he tries to spend his short holidays as efficiently as possible. He firmly believes that a change of activity is the best kind of rest.


Fishing is one of Vladimir Putin’s favourite activities. He is particularly fond of fishing in Russia. “Fishing is my kind of sport: I love it and I'm always happy to use any opportunity to sit down with a fishing rod. Unfortunately, such occasions are very rare. However, sometimes my work actually helps me in this. How else could I go fishing in America, in the company of two presidents? Seriously, the best fishing in the world, according to my personal rating, is in the Murmansk Region and in the delta of the Volga River near Astrakhan,” Putin says.

Vladimir Putin also likes fishing in the Republic of Tuva: “There is a river called Khemchik, the largest left tributary of the Upper Yenisei, or Ulug-Khem, as the locals call it. I guarantee to everyone – it’s an unforgettable holiday, not only on the shores of Khemchik, but in Tuva as a whole.”


Vladimir Putin feels confident in the saddle so horseback riding for him is a chance to rest. On August 3, 2009 Putin took a one-day break and spent it in Tuva. At one of the stops he met with a local shepherd, who invited him to his home, and they went there on horseback.

During his working visit to the Republic of Khakassia, Putin travelled to the foothills of Karatash, near Abakan. There, he hand-fed local horses and drank a cup of tea, cooked over a campfire, and then went riding.

Whitewater rafting

In August 2009, during his one-day break in Tuva, Vladimir Putin stayed in a tent camp on the banks of the Khemchik River. From there he went whitewater rafting in an inflatable rubber boat.

Putin also said that once he went whitewater rafting with his daughters down mountain rivers in Altai. “There we were in our raft (maybe I shouldn’t talk about it, but still), and some guys were standing on the bank. They were just standing there, nobody expected us to be there because we flew in quietly, boarded the raft and went down the mountain rivers. They were standing right on the bank, three of them, with these huge beer mugs. When they saw me, they called out: “Mr President, join us!” I said no, I can’t, I’m in a hurry. “Well then, here is to your health.” As if they had been waiting for me like I go rafting there every day,” Putin recalled.

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