Judo champions and powerful political leaders usually don’t come up in the same conversation: unless this conversation involves Vladimir Putin. This man has led an interesting life. He was born into a
lower-middle class family, and as a teenager he began doing martial arts. He later became the St. Petersburg champion as well as a KGB agent. He is now a politician. From August 1999 until now, he has led Russia as either the prime minister or president (Aron 7). Following his ascension to power, Putin has instituted policies that have led to authoritarian rule and the corruption that threatens Russia’s economic future.
Boris Yeltsin’s presidency assisted Putin’s rise to power and led to many of his policies. Boris Yeltsin took office in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. He passed capitalist and democratic reforms that led many companies to be privatized. The government then handed out vouchers that could be used to buy shares in these companies. Most people did not understand the value of these, and sold them to business men that have since become extremely rich. These men are now known as the Oligarchs ( Mandel 22). The government, which could not collect taxes, was forced into collateralized borrowing agreements with the Oligarchs. These allowed the Oligarchs to gain ownership of large energy companies (24). Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin joined the presidential administration. He held multiple positions, most notably head of the FSB, the heir to the KGB. In August 1999 he was appointed prime minister, and in 2000 he won the presidential election (Aron 7).
Following this election victory, Putin passed laws that have increased the power of the president and the power of the federal government. He has expanded the authority of the president within the federal government. For instance, Putin reformed Russia’s parliament so that, rather than being elected, representatives in Parliament are appointed by officially recognized political parties. Since the president controls which parties are officially recognized, he or she also indirectly controls who becomes a member of parliament (Aron 11). Not only this, but he has increased the power the federal government has over the local governments. One way Putin has done this is by changing the political regions into “super districts” that no longer have a presidential representative (Chambers 14). He has also reformed the legal policy of these regions so that they no longer make their own laws. Instead, their laws are dictated by the federal government (15). However, his changes have not only been political. He has also increased the power of the federal government over the economy. The most notable way he has accomplished this is by taking control of energy companies. Sibneft, a massive oil company, was taken over by the state (Mandel 37). The largest and most technologically advanced oil company in Russia was confiscated by Putin and the federal government (Aron 12). There are many other...