Putin once called the collapse of the Soviet Union "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century".
Russian President Vladimir Putin was a taxi driver in his spare time to make ends meet after the collapse of the USSR, which he said marked the end of "historic Russia", according to a documentary soon to be broadcast on Russian television.
A former KGB secret service agent, Vladimir Putin, who has deplored the fall of the Soviet empire in the past, said some 30 years later that the event remains a "tragedy" for "most citizens", according to excerpts from the "Russia. Recent History" film to be broadcast on Channel One and reported on by the RIA Novosti agency.
The end of the USSR brought a period of economic instability that plunged many people into poverty as newly independent Russia moved from communism to capitalism.
"Sometimes I had to earn a little extra money," Putin said in the documentary, explaining that he occasionally worked as a taxi driver to supplement his income.
"I mean, earning extra money with the car, as a private driver. It's unpleasant to talk about it to be honest but, unfortunately, that was the case," Putin says in the documentary.
A loyal servant of the Soviet Union, Putin was appalled when it collapsed, once calling it "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century".
"After all, what is the collapse of the Soviet Union? It is the collapse of historic Russia under the name of the Soviet Union," the Russian leader was quoted in the film as saying.
Russia was the centre of the Soviet Union, which expanded to include 15 republics, stretching from the Baltics in the west to Central Asia.
In 1991, shaken by economic difficulties, the Soviet Union disintegrated and Russia became an independent nation.