Leningrad State University and KGB school
In 1970, Vladimir Putin became a student of law department at Leningrad State University, earning his degree in 1975.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Mr Putin studied at KGB School No. 1 in Moscow.
"Even before I finished high school, I wanted to work in intelligence. Granted, soon after, I decided I wanted to be a sailor, but then I wanted to do intelligence again. In the very beginning, I wanted to be a pilot."
A sailor? A pilot? An intelligence officer.
Photo from Vladimir Putin’s personal archive
Even before he finished school, Vladimir Putin wanted to work in intelligence.
He went to a public reception office of the KGB Directorate to find out how to become an intelligence officer.
There, he was told that first, he would have to either serve in the army or complete college, preferably with a degree in law.
“And from that moment, I began preparing myself to enter the law department at Leningrad State University,” Mr Putin notes.
New goals, new values.
In 1970, Vladimir Putin was admitted to law department at Leningrad State University.
“We had a class of 100 people, and only 10 of them entered immediately after high school, the rest had already completed military service.
So for us, the high-school graduates, only one out of 40 was admitted. I got four out of five for the essay, but top marks for everything else, so I passed.”
“When I began studying at the university, new goals and new values emerged. I mainly focused on studies, and began seeing sports as secondary. But, of course, I trained on a regular basis and participated in nation-wide competitions, almost out of habit.”
State Security Agencies
After graduating from Leningrad State University, Putin was assigned to work in the state security agencies. “My perception of the KGB was based on the idealistic stories I heard about intelligence.”
He was first appointed to the Directorate secretariat, then the counterintelligence division, where he worked for about five months. Half a year later, he was sent to operations personnel retraining courses.
Mr Putin spent another six months working in the counterintelligence division.
That was when he drew attention from foreign intelligence officers. “Fairly quickly, I left for special training in Moscow, where I spent a year. Then I returned again to Leningrad, worked there in the First Main Directorate – the intelligence service. That directorate had branches in major cities of the Soviet Union, including Leningrad. I worked there for about four and a half years.”
Then Mr Putin returned again to Moscow to study at the Andropov Red Banner Institute, where he was trained for his trip to Germany.
Wedding and Germany
There was something about him...
Having completed his studies at the Andropov Institute, Vladimir Putin left for East Germany in 1985 and worked there until 1990. But before he left, another major event in his life took place
New goals, new values.
Vladimir Putin met Lyudmila Shkrebneva through a mutual friend. Lyudmila worked as a flight attendant on domestic airlines and had come to Leningrad for three days with a friend.
“I was already working in the First Main Directorate in St Petersburg, when a friend of mine called and invited me to the Arkady Raikin theatre.
He said he already had the tickets, and mentioned there would be two young ladies joining us.
So we went to the performance and the young ladies did join us. The next day, we went to the theatre again, but it was now my turn to buy the tickets.
And the same thing happened on the third day. I then began dating one of the girls. I became friends with Lyudmila, my future wife,” Mr Putin recalls.“There was something about Vladimir that attracted me.
Three or four months later, I already knew this was the man I needed,” Lyudmila recalls. Three years after their first meeting, Vladimir proposed to Lyudmila. “I knew that if I did not marry for another two or three years, I would not marry at all.
True, I was used to life as a bachelor, but Lyudmila changed that,” Mr Putin admits. They got married on July 28, 1983.
In 1985, before their departure for Germany, Vladimir and Lyudmila Putin welcomed their first daughter, Maria. Their second daughter, Katerina, was born in 1986, in Dresden.
Both girls were named in honour of their grandmothers, Maria Putina and Yekaterina Shkrebneva.
According to their mother, Lyudmila, Mr Putin loves his daughters very much. “Not all fathers are as loving with their children as he is. And he has always spoiled them, while I was the one who had to discipline them,” she says
In 1985-1990, Vladimir Putin worked in East Germany. He served at the local intelligence office in Dresden.
Over the course of his service, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and to the position of senior assistant to the head of the department. In 1989, he was awarded the bronze medal issued in the German Democratic Republic, For Faithful Service to the National People’s Army.
“My work was going well. It was a normal thing to be promoted just once while working abroad. I was promoted twice,” Mr Putin says.