Russia - Personal background

Vladimir Putin was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) on 7 October 1952. In a 1999 memoir, he stated that his paternal grandfather had been a cook for Lenin and Stalin, and that his father had worked for the security apparatus. He graduated from the Law Department of Leningrad State University in 1975, with a Masters of Economics, and immediately joined the Committee for State Security (KGB). He then attended the Red Banner Intelligence School, learning spy craft and fluency in German, and attaining his black belt in judo. In his 1999 memoir, he stated that he had tried to join the KGB as a teenager but was told to pursue a law degree. He is fluent in German. His wife, Lyudmila, was a university professor before assuming her position as Russia's first lady. In October 2001, she became head of the Center of the Development of the Russian Language, an organization that seeks to preserve and promote Russian as an official language in the former Soviet republics. The couple has two daughters, Maria and Katerina. Putin participates in several sports, including skiing and judo.

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