1975年，普京在列宁格勒州立大学获得法律学位，在那里他受到阿纳托利·索布查克的辅导和结识，阿纳托利·索布查克后来在格拉斯诺斯特和改革期间成为政治领袖。作为一名大学生，普京被要求加入苏联共产党，但于1991年12月辞去成员职务。他后来将共产主义描述为“一条死胡同，远离文明主流。”在最初考虑之后在法律生涯中，普京于1975年被招募到克格勃（国家安全委员会）。他担任外国反情报官15年，在德国东德累斯顿度过了最后六年。在1991年离开克格勃并担任中校军衔后，他回到俄罗斯，负责列宁格勒州立大学的对外事务。正是在这里，普京成为他的前任导师阿纳托利·索布查克的顾问，他刚刚成为圣彼得堡第一位自由选举产生的市长。作为一名有效的政治家，普京在1994年迅速升任圣彼得堡第一副市长。1996年移居莫斯科后，普京加入了俄罗斯第一任总统鲍里斯叶利钦的行政人员。叶利钦承认普京是一颗冉冉升起的新星，任命他担任联邦安全局（FSB）主任 – 克格勃的后共产主义版本 – 以及有影响力的安理会秘书。 1999年8月9日，叶利钦任命他为代总理。 8月16日，俄罗斯联邦立法机构国家杜马投票决定确认普京被任命为总理。叶利钦首先任命他的那天，普京宣布他打算在2000年全国大选中寻求总统职位。虽然他在当时基本上不为人知，普京的公众人气飙升，作为总理，他策划了一场成功解决第二次车臣战争的军事行动，在俄罗斯控制的俄罗斯军队和分离主义叛乱分子之间的武装冲突。 1999年8月至2009年4月期间，未被承认的车臣共和国伊奇克里亚战斗。当鲍里斯叶利钦于1999年12月31日意外辞职时，由于涉嫌贿赂和腐败，俄罗斯宪法使普京担任俄罗斯联邦总统。同一天晚些时候，他发布了一项总统令，保护叶利钦及其亲属免于因可能犯下的任何罪行而被起诉。
In 1975, Putin earned a law degree from Leningrad State University, where he was tutored and befriended by Anatoly Sobchak, who would later become a political leader during the Glasnost and Perestroika reform period. As a college student, Putin was required to join the Communist Party of the Soviet Union but resigned as a member in December 1991. He would later describe communism as “a blind alley, far away from the mainstream of civilization.” After initially considering a career in law, Putin was recruited into the KGB (the Committee for State Security) in 1975. He served as a foreign counter-intelligence officer for 15 years, spending the last six in Dresden, East Germany. After leaving the KGB in 1991 with the rank of lieutenant colonel, he returned to Russia where he was in charge of the external affairs of Leningrad State University. It was here that Putin became an advisor to his former tutor Anatoly Sobchak, who had just become Saint Petersburg’s first freely-elected mayor. Gaining a reputation as an effective politician, Putin quickly rose to the position of first deputy mayor of Saint Petersburg in 1994. After moving to Moscow in 1996, Putin joined the administrative staff of Russia’s first president Boris Yeltsin. Recognizing Putin as a rising star, Yeltsin appointed him director of the Federal Security Service (FSB)—the post-communism version of the KGB—and secretary of the influential Security Council. On August 9, 1999, Yeltsin appointed him as acting prime minister. On August 16, the Russian Federation’s legislature, the State Duma, voted to confirm Putin’s appointment as prime minister. The day Yeltsin first appointed him, Putin announced his intention to seek the presidency in the 2000 national election. While he was largely unknown at the time, Putin’s public popularity soared when, as prime minister, he orchestrated a military operation that succeeded resolving the Second Chechen War, an armed conflict in the Russian-held territory of Chechnya between Russian troops and secessionist rebels of the unrecognized Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, fought between August 1999 and April 2009. When Boris Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned on December 31, 1999, under suspicion of bribery and corruption, the Constitution of Russia made Putin acting President of the Russian Federation. Later the same day, he issued a presidential decree protecting Yeltsin and his relatives from prosecution for any crimes they might have committed.
While the next regular Russian presidential election was scheduled for June 2000, Yeltsin’s resignation made it necessary to hold the election within three months, on March 26, 2000. At first far behind his opponents, Putin’s law-and-order platform and decisive handling of the Second Chechen War as acting president soon pushed his popularity beyond that of his rivals. On March 26, 2000, Putin was elected to his first of three terms as President of the Russian Federation winning 53 percent of the vote.