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Wednesday, 28 February, 2001, 14:10 GMT
Putin's student years
Old photo of the young Putin as a student and girlfriend
The girls fell in love with the young Putin
In his student years, Russia's president Vladimir Putin was, it seems, a hit with the girls, gave out autographed photographs to his admirers and liked a good party song.

Russia's independent TV channel NTV has broadcast some little-known details of Putin's student years at the then Leningrad University, where he studied law before joining the KGB as a spy.

Girls fell in love with the sportsman, excellent student and Komsomol member

Russian NTV
When Putin was 17, his parents bought a modest dacha on the outskirts of Leningrad (now St Petersburg) where in the evenings the young Putin would cram for his school leaving exams.

A neighbour of those years told NTV that Putin was a hard-working student and that his proud father "jumped for joy" when his son showed him his university entrance results.
Putin studied and partied at the family dacha
The young Putin crammed for his exams at the family dacha

The dacha was sold several years ago, but NTV said many of Putin's belongings are still there, including some photos and his old school exercise books.

Putin used to drive out to the dacha at weekends in a Zaporozhets car which he won in a lottery.

The neighbour, Vera Brileva, said the young Putin liked to celebrate the New Year and other Soviet era holidays at the dacha.

She said it was a rare party that did not include a performance by Putin of his favourite song - "the dashing troika this way comes".

The young Putin
Putin as a student: Liked to sing party songs
She said he would sing the entire song and "in a serious manner too".

Putin, who is a black belt judo expert, excelled at sports as a student and NTV's correspondent said "girls fell in love with the sportsman, excellent student and Komsomol member" - a reference to the Soviet-era Young Communist League.

He used to give out photos of himself with inscriptions such as "a healthy spirit in a healthy body".

In one girl classmate's leaving album, he wrote: "Never live for yourself or for others only. Remember that any exaggeration is ugly" - a motto for life coined at the age of 19.

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07 May 00 | Europe
Putin takes power
05 Mar 00 | Europe
Analysis: Putin wants respect
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