While there are many politicians and government officials, only a selected few political figures have made an impact that is global and undeniable. Gifted with diplomatic skills, charisma and fiery rhetoric, these men have won the public over and over again.
The most famous man in Russia’s modern history, Vladimir Putin is what many around the world think when the term Slav is mentioned. Former KGB agent turned politician, Putin first served as a Prime Minister before eventually winning the presidentship. Native of Saint Petersburg, Putin was elected President for the first time in 2000, after the resignation of Boris Yeltsin. In the years to come, he remained in power as a Prime Minister and President, in cooperation with Dmitry Medvedev. Known worldwide for his macho no-nonsense appearance and attitude, Putin is an avid sportsman and hunter. His alpha male persona has attracted global attention, and made him into an icon of a digital age. Hundreds of memes, funny photoshopped images of him riding a bear and similar material can easily be found on the Internet.
However, he remains the most approved and beloved President of Russia by his people to date, and an admired figure in politics due to his direct and efficient manner of dealing with various types of crisis and dubious international affairs. Controversial to some extent, the 65 year old is notoriously private when it comes to his love and family life. Despite a decade long talks in the tabloids about his secret marriage and family with Olympic gymnast Alina Kabaeva, all information that is officially confirmed for public is that he is divorced from his first wife Lydmila, and has two daughters with her.
The first, and only President of Belarus, Lukashenko is not only a historian by profession, but also an economist. Hailing from a small town of Kopys, Lukashenko was brought up by a single working class mother, without ever knowing his father. An excellent student, he obtained his degrees at the Mogilev Pedagogical Institute and Belarusian Agricultural Academy. After serving the Border Guard as an instructor of political department, and Soviet Army, Aleksandr joined the Communist Party of Soviet Union. After leaving the military, he was appointed as a deputy chairman, and subsequently director of a state owned Gorodets farm. Two years into his career in the agricultural sector, Lukashenko officially entered politics in 1990, when he was elected Deputy to the Supreme Council of the Republic of Belarus. Notable for being the only member who voted against Belarusian independence of Soviet Union, he also directly accused 70 senior government officials of corruption and theft. Although his claims were never proven, Lukashenko’s brittle rhetorics largely damaged the reputation of his opponents, and eventually, Supreme Soviet Chairman Stanislav Shushkevich resigned.
Soon after, the first presidential elections in Belarus took place, and Lukashenko won against five opponents winning more than 80 percent of the votes. He retains his position until this day. Praised for lifting the Belarusian economy from the dead, Lukashenko’s methods of governing lowered the unemployment levels to less than 2 percent and made the average salary higher than in most other former Soviet republics. However, his rule is not without controversy, as his relationship with US has often been hostile, especially during the term of George W. Bush. Contrasting to his changeable nature of relationship with the West, he is a great supporter and political ally of Vladimir Putin and Russian politics under his rule. Lukashenko is married to his high school love Galina, with whom he has two sons. However, he also fathered an out of wedlock child in 2004, named Nikolai, whom he has taken to many formal affairs such as meeting Hugo Chavez and Pope Benedict XVI , even eventually stating he will be his heir as the next President of Belarus.
First directly elected Czech president, Zeman was freshly re-elected in 2018. A native of Kolin, Zeman graduated from University of Economics in Prague. He was also famously expelled from the Communist party, as he was against Warsaw Pact invasion on Czechoslovakia. Causing massive controversy, Zeman first appeared in the public eye as he severely criticized Czechoslovak economy on national television. Despite outrage, this speech made him well known and earned him a seat in the House of the Nations of the Czechoslovak Federal Assembly. Joining Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) in 1992, it only took him a few years to make it into the country’s most successful party. After ČSSD won the elections in 1998, Zeman was appointed Prime Minister. Making an attempt at presidency in 2003, Zeman was a candidate but lost to Vaclav Klaus.
For his failure, he partially blamed the disjointed circumstances within ČSSD, and eventually left the party. Yet, he ran for president again in 2012, and won by a large margin. Although a supporter of European Union, and not a conservative, he is considered to be closer to Russia and China than its Western counterparts. He has expressed his support towards the State of Israel and Serbian claim on Kosovo, refusing to have a Czech embassy in a “terror regime financed by the illegal drug trade”. He also opposed migrant quotas which European Union suggested, saying it is something everyone will regret. Widely known as a heavy drinker and smoker, Zeman has a son and a daughter from two marriages. He is currently married to Ivana Bednarčíková, with whom he has a daughter Katerina, a prominent member of his presidential team.
Kolinda Grabar Kitarović
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (born 29 April 1968) is a Croatian politician and diplomat who has been the President of Croatia since 2015. She is the first woman to be elected president after the first multi-party elections in 1990. At 46 years of age, she became the youngest person to enter the office. Before her election as president, Grabar-Kitarović held a number of governmental and diplomatic positions. She was Minister of European Affairs from 2003 to 2005, the first female Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration from 2005 to 2008 in both the first and second cabinets of Ivo Sanader, Croatian Ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2011 and Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy at NATO under Secretaries-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Jens Stoltenberg from 2011 to 2014.
Grabar-Kitarović contested the presidential election held in December 2014 and January 2015 as the only female candidate (out of four in total), finishing as the runner-up in the first round and thereafter proceeding to narrowly defeat incumbent President Ivo Josipović in the second round. Grabar-Kitarović defeated Josipović by the closest percentage margin of any presidential election to date. In 2017, Forbes magazine listed Grabar-Kitarović as the world’s 39th most powerful woman.
Aleksandar Vučić (Serbian Cyrillic: Александар Вучић, pronounced , born 5 March 1970) is a Serbian politician who has been the President of Serbia since 31 May 2017. He is also the president of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). Before his tenure as president Vučić served as the Prime Minister of Serbia in two terms from 2014-2016 and from 2016 until 2017, as well as the Deputy Prime Minister since 2012 until 2014. Furthermore, Vučić served as the member of the parliament of Serbia, Minister of Information from 1998 to 2000 and later as Minister of Defence from 2012 to 2013.
In April 2017, Vučić was elected President of Serbia with over 55% of the vote in the first round, thus avoiding a second round. He formally assumed office on 31 May 2017, succeeding Tomislav Nikolić. His ceremonial inauguration ceremony was held on 23 June 2017.
Boyko Metodiev Borisov (Bulgarian: Бойко Методиев Борисов, born 13 June 1959) is a Bulgarian politician who has been serving as the 50th Prime Minister of Bulgaria since 4 May 2017. He had previously held the post of Prime Minister on two separate occasions, from 2009 until 2013 and from 2014 until January 2017. He was also the Mayor of Sofia from 2005 to 2009.
Borisov occasionally plays as a forward for the football club FC Vitosha Bistritsa. In 2013, he became the oldest player ever to play for a Bulgarian professional club when he appeared for Vitosha in the B Group, the second division of Bulgarian football.
Andrzej Sebastian Duda (born 16 May 1972) is a Polish politician as well as the sixth and current President of Poland, holding the office since 6 August 2015. Before his tenure as President, Duda was a member of Polish Lower House (Sejm) from 2011 to 2014 and the European Parliament from 2014 to 2015. Duda was the presidential candidate for the right wing Law and Justice party, during the 2015 presidential election in May 2015. In the first round of voting, Duda received 5,179,092 votes – 34.76% of valid votes.
In the second round of voting, Duda received 51.55% of the vote, beating the incumbent president Bronisław Komorowski, who received 48.45% of the vote. On 26 May 2015, Duda resigned his party membership as the president-elect.