Vladimir Putin was elected president of the Russian Federation in 2000 as the hand-picked successor of Boris Yeltsin. A member of the KGB beginning in the mid-1970's, Putin spent years working primarily in East Germany, then left the service in 1991 and became active in the politics of St. Petersburg (Leningrad). He was brought to Moscow by Yeltsin in 1996 and served as an administrator in the Kremlin and an official for the security organizations which replaced the KGB.
In 1999, Putin became Yeltsin's fifth prime minister in 17 months, then became acting president when Yeltsin left office. He was officially elected to the office in 2000 and re-elected in 2004 in a landslide vote. He stepped down in 2008 (as required by term limits) and was replaced by his own hand-picked successor, Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev installed Putin as prime minister, a move which left Putin, as The New York Times put it, as "the country's dominant politician, with a firm grip on power." In 2012, Putin was again elected President, but this time accompanied by wide-spread protests of election fraud. During this latest Putin administration, the Russian government has become increasingly repressive by virtually eliminating dissent, from the arrest of members of the feminist punk rock protest group Pussy Riot to the dissolution and intimidation of news agencies and journalists who are critical of the government, as well as instituing policies against the LGBT community.