Ukraine-Russia War

Vladimir Putin’s Rise To Power

Vladimir Putin’s rise to power is a cautionary tale of manipulation, corruption, and the abuse of power.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Federal Security Service FSB Chief Alexander Bortnikov attends a signing ceremony while visiting the Kalashnikov Academy on September 19, 2019 in Izhevsk, Russia. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty

It all began in the 1990s, as the Soviet Union was collapsing and Russia was transitioning to a new political system. Putin, a former KGB agent, quickly made a name for himself in the administration of Boris Yeltsin, the first president of the Russian Federation. He served as head of the Federal Security Service, the KGB’s successor agency, and then as Yeltsin’s prime minister.

As Yeltsin’s health began to decline, Putin emerged as his designated successor. In the 2000 presidential election, Putin campaigned as the strongman who would restore order and stability to Russia. He was elected in a landslide, and immediately set about consolidating his power.

One of Putin’s first moves was to take control of Russia’s major media outlets, ensuring that the Kremlin controlled the narrative. He also began to silence political opponents, using the legal system to jail or exile those who dared to challenge him.

Over the next two decades, Putin further solidified his grip on power by stacking the judiciary with loyalists, cracking down on independent civil society, and using state-controlled corporations to control the economy. He also orchestrated the return of Crimea to Russia in 2014, which was met with international condemnation.

Despite widespread allegations of corruption and human rights abuses, Putin has remained popular in Russia, thanks in part to a cult of personality that has been carefully cultivated by the Kremlin. But make no mistake, his rise to power has been built on a foundation of authoritarianism, suppression of dissent and abuse of power, rather than any real accomplishments or a mandate from the people.

As Putin continues to hold on to power, it remains to be seen what the long-term consequences of his rule will be for Russia and the world. But one thing is certain: his rise to power serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of authoritarianism and the importance of vigilant democratic oversight.