Saturday, May 11, 2013

Significant People of the Times

1. Vladimir Putin, born October 7, 1952, began his government career as a KGB intelligence office.  From there he continued to climb the governmental ladder, becoming the first deputy mayor of Leningrad in 1994.  Then in 1998 he became the deputy head of management under Boris Yeltsin's administration.  Soon after, in 1999 the president made him prime minister and was appointed president later that year.  Under his regime, in 2001 he declared the US an ally, however, in 2012 he put a ban on United States adoption of Russian children.  He also attempted to improve relations with Israel, beginning talks with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.  However, after two terms, Putin was forced to step down, and passed power to Dmitry Medvedev who made Putin his Prime Minister.  After one term Medvedev stepped down, allowing Putin to become President once again in 2012.  This power exchange is the perfect example of the authoritarian regime that Putin operates, rigging the political system to wield absolute power.     
2. Angela Merkel, born July 17, 1954, is a native of West Germany.  Before entering into politics Merkel obtained a PhD in physics in 1978 and was a chemist at the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry.  However, she entered into politics after the fall of the Berlin War in 1989.  Leading up to her election as chancellor, she became the chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union Party, and served on the cabinet for women and youth under Helmut Kohl.  In 2005, Merkel won the election for Chancellor by a small margin against Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, winning by just three seats.  Throughout her tenure she has established herself as one of the strongest leaders in Europe.  She has successfully pulled Germany through the worst economic crisis since World War 2, keeping budgets down and maintaining a strong growth rate of 3.6, the highest in Western Europe (as of 2011).  She has also been a strong voice in maintaining the strength of the EU throughout the economic crisis of many poorer EU nations.  
3. Slobodan Milosevic, born August 20, 1941, was at different times the Serbian and Yugoslavian president.  He began his career in the business and managerial profession.  At one point he was the head of a state owned gas company and president of a major Belgrade Band.  He entered into full time politics in 1984 under the mentorship of Ivan Stambolic, the head of the League of Communists of Serbia, and became the leader of the league in 1987.  He and his cohorts demanded that the federal government restore full control to Serbia over the autonomous provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo.  To reach this goal he pushed through constitutional amendments, curtailing the provinces' autonomy.  Despite his efforts, countries began to break away from the state, beginning with Slovenia, Croatia, and Macedonia all declaring independence in 1991, followed by more countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina in the following year.  Milosevic is responsible for the death of thousands as he order the ethnic cleansing of the Kosovar Albanians during his presidency which began in 1989.  In 2001, he was arrested by the Yugoslav government and turned over to the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.  He died in prison in 2006.

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