Vladimir Putin is the LAST person I would imagine could be intimidated, and even if he wasn’t afraid, he was concerned enough for the safety of his loved ones, to sleep with a pump-action shotgun beside his bed during those dark times of the 1990s. He explained he had two young daughters when he even considered a job as a taxi driver, so as a result, his concern was not only for himself, as he explained:
“In my country home, I had to put a pump-action shotgun near my bed, this is true. But these were the times back then – better to be safe than sorry,”
“I thought about what to do, thought about maybe seeking work as a taxi driver. I am not joking, I had to do something, I had two small kids. So, when they offered me legal work in Moscow on the presidential staff, I agreed and moved.”
The 1990’s were among the four worst periods in Russian history, which collectively were
- The Mongol Invasion of 1240
- Including all the events that went with it, the fall of Kiev, the sundering of Ukraine and Belarus from the territory of modern Russia, their partition into Lithuanian Rus’, and later Rzeczpospolita (Poland-Lithuania).
- The Time of Troubles 1598-1613
- The Bolshevik Revolution (1917) and events that followed
- the 1990s (which happened in the 1990’s believe it or not)
There have certainly been other periods of suffering, but those where the ones which left the most lasting effect on the Russian conciseness, particularly the Mongol Invasion, the Bolshevik Revolution, and the 90’s.
During the 1990’s, Russian people almost lost Russia, she was almost sold off and out to the highest bidder, by unscrupulous capitalists and westerizers. This period is perfectly depicted in Glazunov’s monumental work “The Marketplace of Our Democracy” or Rinkok Nashei Demokratii in Russian.
The 1990’s were particularly terrible, because they were actually the first time when Russians felt collectively they couldn’t trust their own government. That is a highly subjective statement, as opinions differed from person to person, but in broad strokes, Russians have always had a close trust for the leadership of Russia (collectively) throughout history.
That doesn’t mean they always thought it was perfect, or they didn’t even fight, but in general, in most periods, they believed the state as a whole was working in the interest of Russia collectively, even if that didn’t mean that of every last Russians. Russians are after all, a collective, communal minded people, not prone to individualism which exalts the individual over Russia itself.
But the 90’s brought a time when even those in power were against Russia, selling her out to the west. Some government figures were more loyal to the Clintons and western businesses than to Russia.
Even Monarchists who despise communism could see that the western capitalists and their allies were not restoring the glory of Imperial Russia, they were trying to dismantle and prostitute her, as they still do in Ukraine. Of course, in Stalin’s days, individuals had the purges to fear, and Holy Mother Church (The Orthodox Church) suffered tremendously under Lenin, but from a broader political view, during the Soviet years, there was no doubt the government was acting in favor of the Soviet state – even if not all Russians agreed it represented Russia. They weren’t acting intentionally for a foreign state.
In the 1990’s, may believe factions within the government were openly betraying Russia in ways which never happened before. Russians never felt this uncertain, as before, there had always been a guiding, infallible ideology: Orthodoxy, The Czar, Communism, etc. but in the 90’s it was like all those giants faded into history, and only ashes and embers remained of a once great flame.
The 90’s may have been the greatest period of Ruin ever, even Putin was worried in those days, but this is exactly why he is so respected, why he has become a living legend. Putin has revived Russia from the ashes of those dark days, earning him his legendary status, which Russians will never forget among the leaders from Saint Vladimir Svyatoslavich to Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin].
Vladimir Putin had to protect himself with firearms due to criminality in Russia during the pro-market reforms of the 1990s, and even considered taking a side-job as a taxi driver, the president revealed in an interview.
The revelations emerged in a documentary about Putin, made by Russian journalist Andrey Kondrashov. In the film, one of the president’s friends, famous cello player Sergey Roldugin, said Putin used to keep a firearm near his bed during the 1990s.
In an interview for the documentary, the Russian leader said modern crime drama tended to exaggerate the level of lawlessness in the country at that time, but said “in general, the situation was quite militant.”
“In my country home, I had to put a pump-action shotgun near my bed, this is true. But these were the times back then – better to be safe than sorry,” he said.
The president also revealed that he thought about taking a side-job as a taxi driver after his friend and mentor Anatoly Sobchak lost the 1996 governor elections in St. Petersburg. “I thought about what to do, thought about maybe seeking work as a taxi driver. I am not joking, I had to do something, I had two small kids. So, when they offered me legal work in Moscow on the presidential staff, I agreed and moved.”
Putin has repeatedly described the “shock-therapy” reforms of the 1990s as a mistake that led to poverty for the majority of Russians, while few chosen ‘oligarchs’ gained tremendous riches. Last year, Putin reiterated this position when speaking to an international economic forum, blaming the gap between the richest and poorest Russian citizens on a “nasty tendencies” rooted in 1990s.
Those were truly dark days – it can be hard even to speak of, but with the work of Putin in restoring Russia, God forbid that any Russian should ever feel like that.