I have just answered a question on Quora if Putin really is so popular in Russia that people are willingly extend his term in power—or is it perhaps the good old authoritarian coercion?
Putin has thrown the country back to authoritarianism.
Putin is not popular, as far as I know. He used to be thanks to extremely aggressive brainwashing, particularly, on TV and gradually on all media. Quora, too, is pretty much infested by Putin-trolls. I wouldn’t normally comment on troll inputs, but the one with the pictures from a “professional Russian” is especially funny—”how it looked back then and how it looks now”.
Fresh paint and a couple of pathetic architectural monstrosities—is it really all “Putin” has accomplished in 20 years in power? No, no, of course not, this is just a silly troll joke. And neither of those have anything to do with Putin.
What has to do with him is total graft and corruption, lawlessness and effective ban on any opposition. Elections are routinely rigged, power seized, freedoms violated, people exposed to economic disaster or crony capitalism and the collapse of social services and social infrastructure. Putin’s rule has been illegitimate since 2008 when his second term was over.
The Russians are not really protesters and have always been lousy at self-organising into civic groups. They are quiet and timid and prefer to stay loyal to those in power. There are many theories about that.
The reality is that those who prefer to endure and suffer are normally quite resentful. Do they see Putin and his cronies rob the resources and proclaim themselves the owner of Russia and the Russians? Of course, they see. Do they protest? No, they resent it. Will they ever come to resist it? Yes, when they see it is ok to resist openly.
Hence, Putin’s “plan” is to prevent self-organisation, postpone the moment of “ok-resistance” as far as possible: by silencing the opposition, banning the freedom of expression, seizing the media.
Putin has been very busy building his authoritarian fortress to keep himself safe, he has had essentially no time or energy for anything else. As a result, he has made Russia an international pariah, isolated the country and doomed it to economic flatline.
The Russians have pretty much grown tired of this sh** and are very likely to resent Putin and his crony capitalism so much that may soon start looking for a way of releasing this resentment in a more practical manner.