Vladimir Putin claims collapse of Soviet Union forced him to work as a taxi driver

Moscow – Russian President Vladimir Poutine claimed that the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s had left him so struggling financially that he was forced to work as a taxi driver to earn extra money.

“Sometimes I had to make extra money as a driver. It’s not nice to talk about it, but unfortunately it was,” Putin said in a short video clip released by the channel. Russia 24 public television as a teaser for an upcoming film titled: “Russia. Recent History.”

“After all, what is the collapse of the Soviet Union? It is the collapse of historic Russia as the Soviet Union,” Putin said.

Putin has repeatedly lamented the collapse of the USSR, once describing it as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century”.

Russian President Putin meets Valdai Discussion Club at annual meeting
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the Valdai Discussion Club plenary meeting October 21, 2021, in Sochi, Russia.

Mikhail Svetlov / Getty


The economic situation that developed when 15 republics broke into independent states forced many Russians to seek additional income. People from all walks of life – even those who previously held prestigious positions in science or medicine – were often forced to make a living as street vendors or drivers.

The economic shock has become an integral part of recent Russian history. At the time, official licensed taxis were scarce in Russia, and many people who could get their hands on a vehicle accompanied foreigners to supplement their income. These unofficial taxi drivers were nicknamed “bombila”.

Putin had said before that he took into consideration worked as a driver to make ends meet at the time, but he never said he actually resorted to taking tickets.

Putin was stationed in East Germany, as a KGB agent, when the Soviet Union fell. According to his biography, soon after returning to Russia, in 1990, he began working for the ex-mayor of St. Petersburg, Anatoly Sobchak, quickly climbing the ranks within his team.

When Sobchak lost a race for governor in 1996, Russia’s future president worried he would have to find another job if his post as Sobchak’s chief of staff ceased to exist.

“I even thought, ‘What am I going to do, maybe work in a taxi?’ I’m not kidding, there wasn’t much else to do. I had two young children, “the president said in a 2018 documentary.” Therefore, when I was offered to move to Moscow and take care of the legal affairs of the presidential administration, I accepted the offer and I moved. ”


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