Vladimir Putin should be one of the most recognizable names for people who are interested in international politics. After all, he has held the position of the President of Russia since 2012. Furthermore, he was the Prime Minister of Russia under Dimitri Medvedev before that, which was preceded by an earlier term as the President of Russia from 2000 to 2008. As such, it is no exaggeration to say that Putin is the single most influential Russian politician of modern times. Naturally, this means that there are a lot of people who are curious about Putin’s current net worth. Unfortunately, getting an good estimate for Putin’s personal wealth is even more challenging than getting a good estimate for most of the other public figures out there. In part, this is because of a lack of information, which is worsened in his case by the fact that most of the relevant documents should be in Russian rather than in English. However, it should also be noted that Putin’s current net worth is a matter of considerable relevance for both Russian and non-Russian politics, meaning that there is a fair amount of noise on the matter floating about out there.
Regardless, there are a number of figures that interested individuals might want to examine. For starters, there is an official report that Putin earned about $135,000 in 2018, which is based on a combination of his salary, his pension, the interest on his savings, and the return on his investments. However, there are convincing reasons to be skeptical of this claim, with an excellent example being how Putin has been known to enjoy luxuries that would not be affordable for him based on the official numbers. Meanwhile, there are estimates of Putin’s current net worth that are much, much higher. One example would be a British-American financier named Bill Browder’s estimate of about $200 billion, while another example would be a Swedish economist named Anders Aslund’s estimate of about $100 to $160 billion. Unfortunately, these estimates have serious issues as well, seeing as how these individuals just don’t have enough documentation to provide their claims with a solid foundation.
In the end, it might not even be possible to estimate Putin’s current net worth with a meaningful degree of accuracy. This is because there are claims that Putin’s personal wealth isn’t held under his name but instead held under the names of his family members as well as other associates. Considering the challenges of figuring out even a single individual’s personal net worth based on incomplete information, estimating Putin’s current net worth beyond saying that he is likely to be very, very rich is pretty much a fool’s game.
How Did Vladimir Putin Reach His Current Net Worth?
As for Putin managed to make so much money, the general strokes of the answer aren’t particularly mysterious even if the finer details are unknown. After all, a successful career in politics can be very lucrative, particularly in countries that have undergone a societal breakdown to the same extent as post-Soviet Union Russia.
In short, Putin was born in Leningrad, which has since returned to its pre-Soviet Union name of Saint Petersburg. Background-wise, his family wasn’t what anyone would call particularly prestigious. The most that can be said is that his paternal grandfather was Lenin’s cook. Otherwise, Putin’s father served in the Soviet military, while Putin’s mother was a factory worker. Regardless, Putin wanted to emulate the kind of intelligence officer shown in Soviet movies when he was still a child, though he took those childhood ambitions much further than most people by actually becoming a member of the KGB.
As such, Putin was assigned to East Germany, which makes sense because he learned to speak German fluently when he was in high school. Putin was in said country when the Soviet Union collapsed, as shown by a statement from his official biography that he had to burn KGB files during the fall of the Berlin Wall to prevent protestors from getting a hold of them. Following the attempted coup against Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991, Putin resigned from his position in the KGB before going to work in government.
For those who are unfamiliar, the early to mid 1990s were not the best of times for Russians. This can be seen in how the life expectancy of Russians fell by five years from 1991 to 1994, which was something that happened in a significant number of other post-Soviet Union countries as well. The exact causes for said phenomenon are complicated, but it is important to note that privatization and other reforms in the period were not handled well, as shown by the skyrocketing poverty. Certainly, there were those who became rich, but there were a lot of other people who suffered enormously in those times. For proof, consider how much of the fall in life expectancy came from adults who fell victim to increases in murders, suicides, accidents, alcoholism, and treatable diseases that became too expensive for most households to treat.
Unsurprisingly, said period has left lasting scars on Russian society. In particular, it is worth mentioning that corruption remains very widespread in said country, which is relevant because the people behind the higher-end estimates believe that is how Putin has made the overwhelming majority of his personal wealth. In some cases, this means that they think that he has been making improper use of government funds for his personal enjoyment as well as his personal enrichment. However, this also means that they think that he has been collaborating with various Russian oligarches to various degrees to benefit from a wide range of endeavors.
As mentioned earlier, there are serious obstacles that make it either impossible or next-to-impossible for even experts to estimate Putin’s current net worth with a degree of confidence that interested individuals can trust in. However, what seems certain is that Putin is much, much richer than what the official numbers say because they simply don’t line up with his luxurious lifestyle. Otherwise, interested individuals can choose whichever of the various estimates that have been thrown about, which range from $40 billion and $70 billion to $200 billion at the extreme of things. For context, it should be mentioned that $200 billion would put Putin as the richest person in the entire world by far, which when combined with the fact that it comes from a noted Putin critic, means that interested individuals might want to go with one of the lower but still astonishingly high estimates that are available.