Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that he will once again seek reelection, marking his fourth bid for the top office in his nation.
Putin is expected to secure reelection quite easily, despite a growing opposition movement within his nation. Between terms as president and Russian Prime Minister, his reelection will mean Putin’s reign of power will extend over a massive 24-year span, making him the longest sitting Russian leader since Joseph Stalin who retained power for 29 years.
Putin, a former KGB agent who rose to prominence via questionable means, has become a cultural icon both inside Russia and externally. Memes of the bare-chested world leader riding bears or looking generally disinterested in geopolitics have made their rounds on numerous U.S. based websites for years. Within Russia, many see him as the man that has restored national pride since the fall of the Soviet Union.
However, despite the man’s well-tailored public image that leans heavily on things like his black belt in judo and quiet but threatening charm, Vladimir Putin’s actions have also cultivated a different kind or reputation: that of a despotic war criminal, responsible for the deaths of countless innocent people.