Russian President Vladimir Putin took a job as a taxi driver in the chaotic 1990s after his return from the GDR. “Sometimes I had to earn some extra money,” he said in a documentary on Russian state television on Sunday evening.
At the time of the implosion of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, official taxis were a rarity in Russia. Many Russians who owned a car, whether or not owned by their employer, tried to earn a little extra by giving strangers a ride. Putin was one of them.
“Sometimes I had to earn some extra money,” he explained in the documentary Newest History. “I mean, making extra money with the car, as a private driver. It’s unpleasant to talk about, but unfortunately, that was the case.”
Putin made his career as an agent with the KGB secret service during the Soviet era. In 1990 he returned with his young family from Dresden to Leningrad, present-day Saint Petersburg. Earning a living was no mean feat in those economically difficult times. Many employees of state security services also had to make sure they got by, it says in the film.
Russian media reported a surprising confession from “taxi driver” Putin. In 2018, the president had already mentioned that he had considered working as a taxi driver in an interview.
In the documentary, Putin calls the collapse of the Soviet Union a “tragedy” for the Russians.