Putin more powerful than Obama – 2014 Forbes ranking

Forbes describes the Russian leader as 'the undisputed, unpredictable and unaccountable head of an energy-rich, nuclear-tipped state'

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Vladimir Putin has been ranked as the most powerful person in the world for the second year running, according to Forbes magazine.

The Russian president's successful defence of the top spot puts him above US president Barack Obama, who came second on the list, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who came third.

Forbes senior editor Caroline Howard described Mr Putin as “the undisputed, unpredictable and unaccountable head of an energy-rich, nuclear-tipped state”.

“No one would ever call him weak,” she added, though she maintained that “no one would call [him] a good guy” either.

UK prime minister David Cameron made the magazine’s top 10, coming in tenth place, despite suffering defections from his party and making little progress with his promise to renegotiation the terms of European Union membership.

Mr Cameron was notably ranked behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who came fifth in the list, and who he has to win over to successfully complete his main foreign policy goals in Europe.

Other highly placed people were Catholic leader Pope Francis, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, European Central Bank chef Mario Draghi and Federal Reserve Bank chair Janet Yellen.

The magazine ranked 72 people – one for every 100m people living on the planet.

Ms Howard explained the methodology: “This is not a lineup of the most influential or an anointing of the new establishment. It is an evaluation of hard power. We insist the people on our list wield the kind of power that shapes and bends the world, and moves people, markets, armies and minds.”

The ranking has been running since 2009. Mr Obama has been top of the list for every year except 2010, 2013, and this year.

Forbes also publishes its annual Billionaires List, which profiles and ranks billionaires from 69 countries.