Vladimir Putin has spoken of how the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 caused so much economic damage, that he had to work as a taxi driver to supplement his income.
Putin described the Soviet Union break-up as the collapse of historical Russia saying it forced many Russians to seek new ways to earn money.
The remarks by the strong man, comes as Russia amasses more than 90,000 troops on its border with Ukraine ( a former Soviet Republic) and there are fears it is planning to invade.
Russia denies this, accusing Ukraine of provocation and seeking guarantees against eastward Nato expansion.
The remarks by Putin come from a documentary film called Russia, Latest History, aired on Sunday, December 12.
“It was a disintegration of historical Russia under the name of the Soviet Union,” he said, adding that in the West it was believed that the further disintegration of Russia was only a matter of time.
Putin views the collapse as a tragedy and talks for the first time about his personal difficulties at the time.
“Sometimes I had to earn extra money,” he said.
“I mean, earn extra money by car, as a private driver. It’s unpleasant to talk about to be honest, but unfortunately that was the case.”
In the early 90s, taxis were a rarity in Russia, and many individuals with cars would give rides to strangers to help make ends meet. Some would even use work vehicles such as ambulances to do taxis.
Before Putin entered politics he worked for the Soviet spy agency, the KGB.
In the early 1990s he worked in the office of St Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak. He maintains that he resigned from the KGB after the August 1991 coup against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev which led to the break-up of the USSR.