Europe

Vladimir Putin and Google: The most popular search queries answered

A picture shows traditional Russian wooden nesting dolls, Matryoshka dolls, depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Why does Putin smile? Is he dead? Does he like Trump?

Vladimir Putin will remain as Russian president until 2024 after winning Sunday's election. And while much is known about the Russian leader, there's still plenty more that people would like to know.

As an experiment, we started typing a few questions about Mr Putin into Google to see what searches it would automatically suggest. We decided to answer the (occasionally quite strange) questions for you.

Is Vladimir Putin...

...married?

No, not as far as we know. He and his wife of 30 years, Lyudmila, announced their divorce in June 2013. They had rarely been seen together in public in the months before their announcement.

There are rumours that Mr Putin has dated former rhythmic gymnast and politician Alina Kabaeva, but there's been no indication whether the rumours are true.

...left-handed?

No, unless something has changed since January, when this picture was taken.

Image copyright Reuters

...rich?

His official salary is the equivalent of about $112,000 (£81,000) a year, according to information filed with the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation before this election.

But two years ago, a then-US Treasury official told the BBC that Mr Putin was "corrupt" and had been hiding his wealth for "many, many years".

"We've seen him enriching his friends, his close allies and marginalising those who he doesn't view as friends using state assets," Adam Szubin said.

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Media captionHow rich is Vladimir Putin?

The Kremlin called the allegations "pure fiction".

However, a CIA memo in 2007 said his personal wealth at the time was close to $40bn; one analyst and critic of Donald Trump said in 2012 that the figure then could have been as high as $70bn, which would have made him the richest man in the world.

...dead?

No - his election victory should be a clue that he's very much alive.

Having said that, speculation swirled about his wellbeing in 2015, when he was not spotted in public for 10 days.

Had he been removed in a coup? Had he died? Become a father again? All sorts of theories emerged, but when the president popped up again, he said only that life "would be boring without gossip".

Why does Vladimir Putin...

...smile?

He's no different from the rest of us: when you're happy, your body creates endorphins, neuronal signals are sent to your facial muscles and they form a smile.

As for what particular things make him smile - how about romping with dogs in the snow?

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Mr Putin with his dogs Buffy (L) and Yume

...want to invade Ukraine?

Well he already has - and annexed Crimea in the process.

Officially, Russian forces did not subsequently enter other parts of eastern Ukraine in 2014 - Russia has acknowledged "volunteers" had helped pro-Russian rebels there - but it is believed by almost everyone but Russia that it was behind the military moves.

Russia's manoeuvres began soon after Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych, a key Putin ally, was ousted amid pro-EU protests. A Ukraine that looked more to the EU would have been a Ukraine that was less dependent on its big neighbour to the east.

...support Syria?

Syria is strategically very important for Russia, which has two military bases there. Bashar al-Assad's government has been a crucial ally to Russia for some time.

When war broke out in Syria in 2011, Russia supported Mr Assad, but it didn't become involved in the conflict until September 2015.

Russia's involvement served two purposes - it kept Mr Assad in power and allowed Russia to make its mark on the international scene, ensuring the US would struggle to attain all its objectives in the region.

Does Vladimir Putin...

...have a son?

No, but it's generally accepted he has two daughters - Katerina, a former dancer who has been working at Moscow State University, and Maria, who is believed to work in endocrinology.

Not much is known about them and you won't get any details from Mr Putin, but a Reuters investigation in 2015 found that Katerina and her husband were extremely wealthy.

...speak English?

Yes. He's been filmed speaking English fluently, and his spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that Mr Putin even corrects translators if they don't translate to English correctly.

...like Trump?

Well now there's an interesting question.

Thirteen Russians, including a former Putin associate, have been charged with trying to influence the outcome of the 2016 US election, in support of Mr Trump and one-time Democratic contender Bernie Sanders.

But does Mr Putin actually like Mr Trump? Only the Russian president can answer that.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images

Did Vladimir Putin...

...steal a Super Bowl ring?

This might seem like a weird question, but there's history here.

Back in 2005, Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots American football team, met the Russian president.

During the St Petersburg visit, Mr Kraft handed Mr Putin his Super Bowl ring - a custom-made, 124-carat diamond ring created to commemorate the Patriots' Super Bowl win.

At the time, Mr Kraft said he gave it to Mr Putin as a gift. But in 2013, he changed his story - he said Mr Putin simply put it in his pocket and walked away.

A week later, Mr Putin said he would commission a new ring "if it has such great value for Mr Kraft and for the team".

...ban memes?

That's what was reported in 2015 - instead, it was more of a recommendation than an outright ban.

But then last year, Russia's ministry of justice announced that it treated the image below, and variations upon it, as "extremist material".

Image copyright Getty Images

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