Putin as you've never seen him before as despot unrecognizable in unearthed pictures.

The Russian President has lived a long life closely connected to the state, with unearthed photographs shining a new light on his meteoric rise.

Putin speaks at event marking anniversary of Battle of Kursk

Putin as you've never seen him before as despot unrecognizable in unearthed pictures.

Vladimir Putin has in one way or another served the Russian state for decades.

He has held either of the country's top jobs - Prime Minister and President - for the last 23 years with little opposition to his rule.

Things may change in the next year as Russia heads towards its 2024 presidential elections after Express.co.uk was told that the Federal Security Service (FSB) is already eyeing up prospective leaders.

But still, the man whose appearance has largely remained unchanged in the last two decades remains at the helm.

The world has grown so used to an image of Putin that it may shock some to see unearthed photographs of the leader in his youth and as a fledgling KGB agent.

Putin as you've never seen him before as despot unrecognizable in unearthed pictures.

One image, dated July 1958, shows a five-year-old Putin sitting on his mother Maria Ivanovna Shelomova's lap.

While it is unclear where the photograph was taken, Putin was born and grew up in Leningrad - present-day St Petersburg - and was the youngest of three children of Maria and Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin.

Both of his older brothers died before he was born, Albert passing in infancy in the 30s while Viktor died of diphtheria and starvation during the siege of Leningrad by Nazi Germany.

His grandfather was a personal cook to Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, the two men who transformed Russia under Communism.

By 1960, Putin had enrolled at school and at age 12 began to practise sambo and judo, two martial arts he has continued to enjoy throughout his life.

Fast forward to 1975 and he had signed up to work for the KGB, later dabbling in counterintelligence before being transferred to a post monitoring foreigners and consular officials in St Petersburg.

Putin as you've never seen him before as despot unrecognizable in unearthed pictures.

Another unearthed image, this time of his time in the KGB, was taken some five years after he joined. It shows a 28-year-old Putin with a full head of blonde combed-over hair.

Five years after the photograph was taken Putin would be sent to serve in Dresden, East Germany, where he used an undercover identity as a translator to gather intelligence for the Soviets.

Working as a KGB liaison officer with the Stasi secret police, he rose through the ranks and was commended by the East German communist regime with a bronze medal for "faithful service to the National People's Army".

Putin has talked fondly of his time in Dresden. While East Germany was still largely cut off from Western Europe, he was able to more easily access Western goods compared to when he was in Russia.

Boris Reitschuster, Putin's German biographer, told the BBC in 2015 that Putin "enjoyed [Dresden] very much, this little paradise for him".

Putin as you've never seen him before as despot unrecognizable in unearthed pictures.

He would unwind by drinking his favourite Radeberger beer at the Am Thor pub, which up until a few years ago had a shrine dedicated to him.

The Russian once visited the German town of Radeberg where the beer was first made in 1872 specifically to tour the brewery.

He indulged so much in the golden liquid that he once confessed his time in Dresden saw him gain 13 kilograms by drinking around three litres of the stuff every week.

Happy memories of the country put him on a good footing with former German Chancellor Angela Merkel who was born and raised in the East.

When the pair met for political discussions, Merkel would often gift him a few bottles for old times sake.

Vladimir Usoltsev, a former KGB colleague of Putin's, previously told the BBC that he also enjoyed pouring over Western mail-order catalogues and reading about different fashions and trends.

His second daughter, Katerina, was born in Dresden, cementing the place the city had in his heart, telling Mr Reitschuster during interviews for the biography of his "closeness" to it.

"It was one of the very few moments when he seemed a little bit emotional and touched," Mr Reitschuster said.

"He said, 'Oh my daughter said her first words in Germany. I'm very close to this country.' You could see that he was moved."


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