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Putin says fulfilled childhood dream to serve Russia

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Russia’s President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a United Russia ruling party’s congress in Moscow on August 24, 2021. (Photo by Grigory SYSOYEV / SPUTNIK / AFP)

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said he has fulfilled his childhood dream of serving Russia as he spoke to teenagers to mark the start of the new school year.

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“Everything was aimed at — and I have to speak pompously in this case — devoting myself to serving the Fatherland,” Putin said during the televised meeting in the Russian far eastern city of Vladivostok.

“And today I am doing just that and I believe that in this sense I managed to achieve what I dreamed of,” Putin, 68, added.

Putin, a former KGB agent, has been president since 2000, apart from briefly serving as prime minister between 2008 and 2012.

In 2020, the constitution was amended to allow him to stay in charge of the Kremlin until 2036, the year he will turn 84.

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Kremlin critics have accused Putin of tightening his grip on power over the past two decades and persecuting his opponents.

Ahead of parliamentary polls later this month, Russian authorities have intensified a crackdown on the opposition and independent media, critics say.

Jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny has seen his organisations declared “extremist” and banned in the country, while all of his top aides have fled.

Leading independent media outlets including the Meduza news website and the Dozhd TV channel have been designated “foreign agents”, while investigative outlet Proekt was declared an “undesirable organisation”.

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