Stationed in East Germany during the 1990s as a rather successful KGB agent, Russian President Vladimir Putin has rarely spoken about his past – East Bloc politics notwithstanding.

In a rare reveal, however, Putin has recently revisited his early career – sharing that in the wake of the Soviet Union’s fall, he drove a cab to make ends meet.

The statement itself can be taken with a grain of salt – it was reported by state-run news agency RIA Novosti this Sunday. However, it also tells the world something about Putin’s agenda and the way he would like his presidency to be perceived – right in the wake of an all-important diplomatic visit to New Delhi.

What Led Putin To Drive A Cab?

The statements themselves are excerpts from an upcoming film by broadcaster Channel One, dubbed ‘Russia. Recent History.’

A sizable part of the film discusses the fall of the Soviet Union, back during the late 1980s and early 1990s. During this time, Putin’s KGB and other military branches staged a coup, which in turn disintegrated a large part of the USSR’s geopolitical structure.

As the weeks, months and years led nations such as Ukraine and Belarus to claim independence, much of Russia was thrown into economic turmoil. Russia began the 1990s with a GDP of around $2,150 billion – by 1997, this amount had reduced to barely $1,300.

Naturally, a 60% decline would be marked by serious losses for businesses as well as state employees. With his future as an agent under intense scrutiny, Putin resigned from the KGB in 1991 following the coup. This is around the time he claims to have been forced to make ends meet as a driver.

“Sometimes I had to earn extra money,” Putin said. “I mean, earn extra money by car, as a private driver. It’s unpleasant to talk about to be honest but, unfortunately, that was the case.”

Which car could it have been? No one knows, although it’s interesting to note that Putin had a favorite beater during those days – one he recounted a few years ago at the Russian industrial expo, INNOPROM-2017.

“In the 1990s, when I worked in the St. Petersburg mayor’s office, for several years, I drove a Nissan. It was not that complicated, of course, but I really liked it,” he admitted.

Is It True?

Like most ex-KGB agent biographies, nothing said about Putin’s early career can be taken at face value. Politicians are infamous for altering history to better suit their agendas – and Putin could be crafting this story simply to project a more relatable image for the average Russian.

Maybe he did drive a cab. All we know is that many Russians were in dire economic straits during those years. Putin joined the St. Petersburg City Administration in the summer of ‘91, working to promote international relations and foreign investments. At the office, he was investigated for millions of dollars in fraud by 1992… so make what you will of his statement.

While Putin may have lived in tough situations earlier, the previous week was a major success – at least on the part of his government.

During the 21st India-Russia annual summit last Monday, the President signed 10 bilateral agreements with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They covered trade, energy, culture, and especially defense – including joint production projects for helicopters and AK-203 rifles.

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