Vladimir Putin was sworn in as Russia's president on Monday, succeeding Dmitry Medvedev and starting a third term in the Kremlin following his two consecutive terms in 2000-2008.
Putin, who had served as prime minister during Medvedev's presidency from 2008 to 2012, won a resounding victory in the country's presidential election in March.
Born in Russia's second largest city of Leningrad (today's St. Petersburg) on Oct. 7, 1952, Putin graduated from the Law Department of Leningrad State University in 1975 and was commissioned to work in former Soviet Union's State Security Committee (KGB).
In 1985, Putin worked in East Germany as a KGB agent.
After the collapse of East Germany in 1990, Putin returned to the Soviet Union and worked as an assistant to the rector of Leningrad State University, Anatoly Sobchak.
After Sobchak was elected mayor of St. Petersburg in June 1991, Putin was appointed head of the mayor's office committee for external relations.
In March 1997, he was appointed deputy chief of then Russian President Boris Yeltsin's office and head of the president's main control directorate.
In July 1998, Yeltsin appointed Putin director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB.
In March 1999, while still heading the FSB, Putin was appointed secretary of the State Security Council. In August 1999, Yeltsin dismissed Sergei Stepashin, his fourth prime minister in 16 months, and replaced him with Putin. Upon Yeltsin's resignation on Dec. 31, 1999, Putin became acting president of Russia.
Putin, riding a wave of popularity for his bold military actions against Chechen rebels, his no-nonsense incorruptible image and his promise to rejuvenate the Russian nation, won the presidential election in 2000.
During his first term in the Kremlin, the stable political situation at home, steady economic growth and improvement of Russians' living standards all helped boost Putin's prestige. He was re-elected president in 2004 by a landslide.
In the 2008 presidential election, Putin endorsed then first Deputy Prime Minister Medvedev as he himself was barred from seeking a third consecutive term under Russian constitution.
After Medvedev's election as president, Putin became prime minister in the new government.
In September 2011, Putin announced that he would run for president again in 2012.
His political ambition, however, triggered prolonged street protests, particularly in Moscow since late last year.
In his election manifesto, Putin promised to develop an innovation-oriented economy that benefits the people and implement political reforms on the basis of stability. He also called for rearmament and modernization of the Russian forces.
With regard to foreign policy, Putin advocated a multi-polar world and a bigger role of the United Nations, and opposed NATO enlargement.
He pledged to nominate Medvedev as prime minister in the new government if elected.
Putin is married and has two daughters. He is fond of sambo wrestling, judo and mountain skiing.