13. He has been accused of using poison as a political tool.
Allegations against Vladimir Putin include claiming that he only gained power in Russia via a coup d’etat organized by the FSB, as well as claims that the FSB — while under Putin’s control — was involved in a series of apartment bombings that the Putin government blamed on Chechen rebels. Litvinenko was poisoned when he was exposed to lethal amounts of polonium-210 in November 2006; he died of radiation sickness three weeks later. He originally sought and received political asylum in England six years before his poisoning.
If you think you can take Putin in a street fight, think again…
12. He’s been accused of plagiarism.
In 1997, Putin technically earned a doctorate in economics from the St. Petersburg Mining Institute; however, his thesis was targeted for a “candidate of sciences” degree, which is widely considered to be a full academic class lower than a doctorate. He earned the degree based on a dissertation entitled, The Strategic Planning of Regional Resources Under the Formation of Market Relations, but some uncertainty exists about precisely when he wrote it and if he wrote it at all.
11. A dog lover, he brought his female black Labrador Koni to a meeting with German leader Angela Merkel, knowing she had a fear of dogs.
10. He is teetotaller now, unlike most Russian politicians such as former President Boris Yeltsin, famed for his heavy boozing.
9. He’s crazy-secretive about his daughters, and nobody in Russia even knows who they are.
Despite leading the country for the last 14 or so years (there was that whole “tandemocracy” period, but we’ll just call it a win for Putin), nobody in Russia would recognize Maria, 29, and Yekaterina, 27 until recently. The women went to school under assumed names and there are almost no photos of them available online.
8. He’s an amateur actor.
Putin’s always down for some time in front of the camera, especially if it involves staging him as a hero. He particularly likes stunts where he appears with big cats, which he’s said he does to promote more awareness about endangered species.
7. It has been claimed that Putin could be worth up to £40billion, money which he has siphoned off from the state into secret bank accounts.
6. He also holds a black belt in karate and is an expert in Judo known for his sweeping hip throw.
5. Putin became one of the fastest politicians in the world on land when he was clocked doing 150mph while driving a Formula One car.
4. Former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband labelled Putin “a ruthless dictator” even though Russia is supposed to be a democracy.
3. Putin likes to display himself as an ice hockey player.
Despite practicing for hours at a time on an ice rink outside town, Putin doesn’t play very well. But ice hockey is a national sport in Russia, and it works just as well as soccer in Germany to gain sympathy points.
2. Putin was head of the leadership party United Russia for four years, without being a member.
Formally speaking he was asked to be president, which again speaks volumes about his influence in the country.
1. Putin rides a Harley Davidson to a meeting of motorcycle enthusiasts in the Crimea in 2010.
Now that is what you call real Badass.
Putin’s manoeuvres have confounded and mesmerized his critics. Granted, some in the West call him irrational or worse, but the facts say crazy successful is more like it.
Perhaps, someday, Putin’s very good year will seem like one of short-lived triumphs. Indeed, this all seems likely to lead in an unhappy direction for Russia. But even then, Vlad will still have those (alleged) billions — and there’s probably a lot to be gained from a little personal instruction in rhythmic gymnastics.