Vladimir Putin, who is expected to win a fourth term as Russian president in polls this month, has reimposed the Kremlin's grip over society since taking power 18 years ago.
Here are key dates in the life of the 65-year-old former KGB officer:
- October 7, 1952: Putin is born into a poor working-class family in Leningrad, now called Saint Petersburg.
- 1998: He is named the head of the FSB security service, the successor to the KGB, having joined the service in 1975.
- 1999: As Boris Yeltsin's prime minister, he oversees the launch of a second war to crush rebels in Chechnya. When Yeltsin resigns on New Year's Eve, Putin takes over as president, being officially elected in March 2000.
- 2004: He is re-elected, president.
- 2008: In line with a constitutional limit, at the end of his second term Putin hands power to his protege Dmitry Medvedev and becomes prime minister.
- 2012: He returns as president, for a term which has been extended from four to six years, amid unprecedented opposition protests.
- 2013: After three decades of marriage, he divorces Lyudmila with whom he has two daughters.
- 2014: He annexes the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, sparking the worst diplomatic crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War.
- 2015: Gives military backing to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
- 2017: In December, he announces he will seek a new six-year term as president in March 2018.