First Person: An Astonishingly Frank Self-Portrait by Russia's President Vladimir Putin

First Person: An Astonishingly Frank Self-Portrait by Russia's President Vladimir Putin

First Person: An Astonishingly Frank Self-Portrait by Russia's President Vladimir Putin

First Person: An Astonishingly Frank Self-Portrait by Russia's President Vladimir Putin

Synopsis

Who is this Vladimir Putin? Who is this man who suddenly -- overnight and without warning -- was handed the reigns of power to one of the most complex, formidable, and volatile countries in the world? How can we trust him if we don't know him?

First Person is an intimate, candid portrait of the man who holds the future of Russia in his grip. An extraordinary compilation of over 24 hours of in-depth interviews and remarkable photographs, it delves deep into Putin's KGB past and explores his meteoric rise to power. No Russian leader has ever subjected himself to this kind of public examination of his life and views. Both as a spy and as a virtual political unknown until selected by Boris Yeltsin to be Prime Minister, Putin has been regarded as man of mystery. Now, the curtain lifts to reveal a remarkable life of struggles and successes. Putin's life story is of major importance to the world.

Excerpt

We talked with Vladimir Putin on six separate occasions, for about four hours at a time. Both he and we were patient and tolerant; he, when we asked uncomfortable questions or were too invasive; we, when he was late or asked us to turn the tape recorder off. "That's very personal," he would say.

These were meetings "with our jackets off," although we all still wore ties. Usually they happened late at night. And we only went to his office in the Kremlin once.

Why did we do this? Essentially, we wanted to answer the same question that Trudy Rubin of the Philadelphia Inquirer asked in Davos in January: "Who is Putin?" Rubin's question had been addressed to a gathering of prominent Russian politicians and businessmen. And instead of an answer, there was a pause.

We felt that the pause dragged on too long. And it was a legitimate question. Who was this Mr. Putin?

We talked to Putin about his life. We talked--as people often do in Russia--around the dinner table. Sometimes he arrived exhausted, with drooping eyelids, but he never broke off the conversation. Only once, when it was well past mid-

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