The BBC has an article from Maria Lipman and Dmitri Gubin who go ‘head to head’ and tell us exactly why they think Putin is great. Or not.
Once you get past the annoying formatting (two columns side by side, each with a headshot at the top) they have some interesting stuff to say. The thing that struck me most, though, was what Gubin had to say about Russia’s need for a strong leader…
…he has brought a mirror – a mirror of the people’s own hopes and anxieties. Most people over 40 want the state to feed them, to find them a job, to do everything for them. They want a kind tsar, who will look after them.
If there is a problem in Russia, it is not with Putin, it is with the Russian people themselves. For a limited period, he is what the country needs.
And the problem is that Russia is a country of two peoples. It’s greatest schism is not between the rich and the poor – it is between the old and the young.
People who spent decades living in the Soviet Union really do feel a need for security, the security they knew in the 1960s and 70s. The Russia of today is frightening. It is a country where they don’t feel safe to walk on the streets, and they never know for sure if they will have enough money to eat for the next month. In a chaotic country like Russia, a symbol of security is far better than nothing. And, for them, Putin is that symbol of security.
But for those under 40, who reached adulthood in the turbulent 1980s and 90s, in a time of hope and of opportunity, what Russia needs is a leader who can drive them forward. Who really can implement the reforms that are needed to turn Russia into the true land of opportunity they were promised under Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Who can take them to the land they dreamt of for so long but never reached. For them, Putin is the man who will take them into that future.
And maybe thats why everybody in Russia loves President Putin.