Vladimir Putin claimed victory in Russia’s presidential election on Sunday, March 4. "I promised you we would win, and we won — glory to Russia!" he proclaimed to a throng of supporters at Moscow’s Manezh Square, in front of the Kremlin, as tears rolled down his cheeks.
“We won an open and honest fight,” he told the crowd that chanted “Putin, Russia, Victory!”
“We will work hard and in good faith. We will be successful. We won. Glory to Russia!” Putin declared before he headed off with the outgoing President Dimitry Medvedev by his side. He is scheduled to begin his six-year term on May 7 and will be eligible for another after that, which means he could be Russia’s head of state through 2024.
Putin, the career KGB agent and head of the KGB’s successor agency, the FSB, was virtually unknown to most Russians and the rest of the world before being appointed Prime Minister by Russian President Boris Yeltsin in August, 1999. The State Duma quickly approved the appointment. When Yeltsin resigned on December 31, 1999, Putin became Acting President. In March 2000 Putin won his first presidential election in the first round, and on May 7, 2000 he took the presidential oath with Yeltsin at his side.
In 2004 Putin was again declared the winner in the presidential election. His reign was marked by a huge influx of operatives from the KGB and its successor police/intelligence agencies into the government, more so than at any other time, including the Soviet era.
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Photo of Vladimir Putin: AP Images