An East Germany Stasi secret police identification card belonging to a young Vladimir Putin has been found tucked away in a drawer in Dresden.
The document, issued in the mid-1980s, contains a picture of the now-Russian president with his typical stone-faced expression – but with a bit more hair. The card apparently had remained hidden inside the Stasi archives for nearly three decades until it was found this month by a U.S. historian who was digging through the records.
“Up to now, it was unknown that Putin, who had worked as a KGB agent in Dresden until 1990, was in possession of a Stasi ID,” Konrad Felber, head of the Stasi Records Agency, told the Bild newspaper. “His name does not appear in the only file that lists all Soviet military personnel who had been given identity cards."
Stamps on the ID show Putin had been using it until the latter half of 1989, according to Reuters. Around that time, protests were occurring in Germany that ultimately led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of Russia's occupation of the eastern half of the city.
When the Wall fell that year, Putin is said to have brandished a pistol in a bid to stop angry mobs from ransacking the KGB’s intelligence offices in Dresden.
“As is well known at the time when the Soviet Union existed, the KGB and the Stasi were partner intelligence agencies so you probably can’t rule out an exchange of such identity cards,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters after hearing about the discovery.
Putin reportedly burned troves of secret KGB files before leaving the eastern German city -- but his Stasi ID card, for some unknown reason, was spared.
“Agents can hide under a variety of covers,” Felber told Bild. “Police officers were saluting him due to the powerful badge. I’m sure it made it also easier for him to recruit new agents since he didn’t have to reveal that he works for the KGB.”