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ost presidents from major countries around the world have had quite a boring past where they would either be born in a powerful circle that would get them to a presidential stance or works their way up to eventually end up as presidents. Vladimir Putin however, has a totally different background which was impacted by the former Soviet Union.

The world looks at Putin as one of if not the most criticized presidents of the 21st century and also one with the longest presidential career. The western media keeps changing its opinion about Putin based on his political choices, whilst the general Russian population agrees that he does a decent job at keeping the country in balance.

A Soldier in the Front Line of Action

Most of the latest decisions that he had made could be influenced by his past, but what is his past? For many years people have thought that Putin being a KGB spy was more of a conspiracy theory to throw supporters off, but in fact, it is 100% true and he also admitted to the fact many times publicly. One hard piece of evidence that was found in Ministerium für Staatsicherheit (German: “Ministry for State Security”) or Stasi archives proved he was in fact a Spy for the secret service of the former Soviet Union.

The full photo ID card issued to the young Vladimir V. Putin by the Stasi, 1985 (Source:

The hard evidence comes in the form of an ID from the old East German secret police that was discovered in 2018. Right at the end of the Cold, Putin was sent to East Germany as a secret agent for the KGB. It is unknown if he was actually validated by Stasi or he was actually infiltrating Stati to assure that they followed the regulations given by Moscow and other higher-ups. He spent most of his time in Dresden where he had to assure that communism within East Germany would not be thrown away or influenced by the capitalists within West Germany.

From a young age, Putin was very captivated by espionage and being a secret agent that would only work behind the enemy lines. According to author Steven Lee Myers, the writer of his biography, Putin was in love with a Soviet novel entitled “The Shield and the Sword”. The novel is about a Soviet secret agent who helped thwart the Nazi regime and end World War II. His aspirations as a politician need to be recognized as he went to Saint Petersburg State University to study law. An interesting aspect is that his thesis focused on international law and trade.

Putin is dancing with his classmate Elena during a party in St. Petersburg in 1970s (Source: Russian Archives/ Global Look Press)

After his graduation in 1975, he was recruited into the KGB. He did not have military experience, nor any sort of experience that would consider him as a good KGB agent. He was recruited based on a new program created by KGB chairman Yuri Andropov who wanted to recruit younger people and train them from a young age to become more critical KGB officers.

Not much is actually known about the sort of counter-intelligence tasks he had been given by the KGB. Most of the people who have worked in the KGB do not talk about this sort of past as they know it would put their lives in danger. To some, it may be a myth, but there is a group of people most probably a secret official organization that is going around killing former KGB officers that want to confess their past.

Moscow prefers to stay silent about the old Soviet days according to a biography on Vladimir Putin. There have been accounts from people that have lived in East Germany during that period of time and remember seeing his face, especially during the 5th of December in 1989 when an uprising was planned on Stasi. It is said that Putin had convinced the crowd to turn down the uprising by bluffing his way out with his great agent skills taught by the KGB. He told the crowd that if they would storm the building they would be fired upon by officers, but truly people weren’t armed.

Although from the historical records that have been gathered it is said that he spent all of his time in East Germany (1985–1990), last year a former white house photographer shared a picture of “young Putin” spying on Ronald Reagan in 1988.

Ronald Reagan extends his hand to a boy as Mikhail Gorbachev (R) looks on during a tour of Moscow’s Red Square — could it also show a young Vladimir Putin (left, with camera) posing as a tourist (Source: Pete Souza via Getty Images)

Some say it looks like Vladimir Putin although he may have been disguised to look more like a westerner rather than a Soviet. Making a transition from one major part of the world to another during the end of the Cold War era wasn’t the easiest, but it would not be a big challenge for a KGB Spy now would it?

Does His Past Have an Influence on His Presidential Status?

Apart from these events, there isn’t much out there about his former life within the KGB. It is known that the KGB was far from ethical in their counter-intelligence operations, but has his former training and ethics been brought forward in his political career? We can see that his years of studies within international law have been shown to help build relations with other nations over the years. Even during the end of Donald Trump’s career, the relations between the United States and Russia were very good despite the past.

Some of the general views within the media say that if someone else were to become President of Russia, it would mean giving a lot of power to someone who cannot handle responsibility. This would either ruin the economy of the country or just bring a long-awaited war that Putin has been doing quite well to avoid (not taking into consideration the Ukraine dispute).

It is true that most prominent Russian officials that are in power today have been also prior KGB officers. According to Stasi archives the chief of the defense manufacturer Rostec, Sergey Chemezov, and the Transneft head, Nikolay Tokarev, served in Dresden alongside Putin within the KGB. After the fall of communism they had to adapt and due to their experience be placed in high positions within the political space.

We all have a past and in most cases, that past is not as bright as the future and this is because only through experience we can learn the lessons of life.

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