“Give me twenty years, and you will not recognize Russia.”
—echoing Piotr Stolypin, Prime Minister to Tsar Nicholas II
A questioner: Who rules Russia when you and the President sleep?
Putin: We take turns sleeping.
—From a live television call-in show in 2010
Larry King: What happened to the submarine RFS Kursk?
Putin: It sunk.
—From Larry King's show in 2009
"There is no such thing as a former KGB man."
—Putin, in response to Sergei Stepashin calling himself "a former KGB officer"
"I am the wealthiest man, not just in Europe, but in the whole world. I collect emotions. I am wealthy in that the people of Russia have twice entrusted me with the leadership of a great nation such as Russia — I believe that is my greatest wealth."
—Putin on his (un)reported net worth
"It's clear that from 1924 to 1953, the country led by Stalin changed fundamentally... industrialization certainly did take place. We won the Great Patriotic War. And whatever anyone may say, victory was achieved. Even when we consider the losses, no one now can throw stones at those who planned and led this victory."
—On the legacy of Joseph Stalin
"I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy."
"I looked into his eyes and saw three letters: a 'K', a 'G', and a 'B'."
"Putin is slouching; looking like that bored schoolboy in the back of the classroom."
"In the new war of beliefs, Putin is saying, it is Russia that is on God’s side. The West is Gomorrah...He is also tapping into the worldwide revulsion of and resistance to the sewage of a hedonistic secular and social revolution coming out of the West."
"The clock has moved back to the 1980s."
—Alexander Lebedev on U.S.-Russian relations under Putin
"It was clear that the actions in Crimea would lead to sanctions, capital flight, and a deterioration of Russia’s reputation, but nobody supporting the aggression thought twice. The imperial horn has been sounded. But we are a Third World kleptocracy hiding behind imperial symbols. There are no resources for a true imperial revival."
—Columnist Stanislav Belkovsky
“Putin now talks more about ideology and about the system of values and the spiritual origins of Russia. In this sense, he, too, is a person of tardy development. He became President unexpectedly. He had no preparation for this role. He had to respond to challenges in the course of things. At first, he had to reconsolidate the state. Now he has inspired a new energy that can be drawn from the national character and the system of values that are rooted in our culture...it is comparable among his predecessors in the twentieth century only with Stalin.”
—Dmitri Kiselyov, head of Russia Today
"In his 2004 State of the Union address [...] Vladimir Putin, then Russia’s president, announced his intention to investigate nonprofit human rights organizations 'obtaining funding from influential foreign or domestic foundations.' Accepting international funding is standard operating procedure for many nongovernmental organizations the world over, but Putin’s speech insinuated that those who criticized the government and profited from foreign funds were disloyal to Russia and somehow dangerous. Within a few years, Putin and his henchmen have succeeded in creating an environment in which it is nearly impossible for NGO to operate successfully, thereby severely crippling the possibility of a robust political opposition."
—Liel Leibovitz, "Left For Dead"
"Slouching in a fancy chair in front of a dozen reporters, Putin squirmed and rambled. And rambled and rambled. He was a rainbow of emotion: Serious! angry! bemused! flustered! confused! So confused... Gone was the old Putin, the one who loves these kinds of press events. He'd come a long way from the painfully awkward gray FSB officer on Larry King, a year into his tenure. He had grown to become the master of public speaking... That Putin was not the Putin we saw today. Today's Putin was nervous, angry, cornered, and paranoid, periodically illuminated by flashes of his own righteousness. Here was an authoritarian dancing uncomfortably in his new dictator shoes, squirming in his throne."
—Julia Ioffe, "Putin's Press Conference Proved Merkel Right: He's Nuts"
"After a few years in office, (Boris) Yeltsin had soiled his reputation as a reforming democrat. There was his strategy of brutal overkill in Chechnya and the way he empowered, under the banner of privatization, a small circle of billionaire oligarchs to soak up Russia’s resources and help run the country. 'Democracy' was roundly known as dermokratiya—'shitocracy'...Buoyed by the sharp rise in energy prices, Putin was able to do what Yeltsin had not: he won enormous popular support by paying salaries and pensions, eliminating budget deficits, and creating a growing urban middle class. It was hardly a secret that Putin had also created his own oligarchy, with old Leningrad pals and colleagues from the security forces now running, and robbing, the state’s vast energy enterprises. This almost unimaginably corrupt set of arrangements, which came to be known as Kremlin, Inc., outraged nearly everyone, but the relative atmosphere of stability, in which tens of millions of Russians enjoyed a sense of economic well-being and private liberty, provided Putin with a kind of authoritarian legitimacy."
—The New Yorker, "Watching the Eclipse"
"Comparing Putin’s aggression in eastern Ukraine to Hitler’s 'protection' of Germans living in Czechoslovakia, as Hillary Clinton did a few months ago, is stretching things a bit. But Putin’s British apologists, on both the left and the right, are sticking faithfully to the script laid down by the man who had the dubious distinction of signing the Munich agreement.
A number of British right-wingers have long admired the Russian president for his unapologetic assertion of Russian power, his promotion of 'traditional' values (see gay baiting) and his cynicism when dealing with 'decadent' democratic governments. Alex Salmond and Nigel Farage, both leaders of burgeoning nationalist parties (Scottish and English respectively), have named the butcher of Chechnya as the one politician they 'most admire,' with Farage describing Putin’s cynical manipulation of the conflict in Syria as 'brilliant.'"
—James Bloodworht, "Putin's' Useful (British) Idiots"