Vladimir Putin in 1968.
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was born on October 7, 1952 in St Petersburg, then known as Leningrad.
He was raised as an only child; his two brothers died young, one shortly after birth, the other of diphtheria during World War II.
Although it was officially prohibited by the Communist law, Putin was baptized in the Russian Orthodox faith.
In his youth he was often called Putka.
His father, Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin, was a factory foreman and died in August 1999 (his mother, Maria Ivanovna Putina, died six months earlier).
Mr Putin has good command of English and German and he is fond of sports, especially wrestling.
He has been going in for sambo (a Russian style of self-defence) and judo since the age of 11.
He won the sambo championships of St Petersburg many times and became Master of Sports first in sambo and later in judo.
Putin doesn't smoke and he is not an excessive drinker.
Vladimir Putin is married to Lyudmila (1958) and has two daughters: Katya (1985) and Masha (1986).
They were both born in Dresden, Germany and now attend an international school in Moscow.
The Putins love animals; they own a white poodle called Tosca.
Lyudmila is a graduate of the philological department of the Leningrad State University.
After studying, she first worked as a stewardess in Kaliningrad and then as a schoolteacher.
She speaks German, Spanish and French.
Vladimir Putin in 2000.