From Matthew Dal Santo at The Interpreter:
The main point is, however, that Russia’s ‘conservative turn’ since Putin’s return to the Kremlin in March 2012 — widely deplored in the West as a creeping authoritarianism with roots only in the wiles of Putin’s mind — may be closer to the world view of Russia’s conservative and patriotic majority than most Western governments would care to admit……
To Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Centre, however, this is betting on the wrong horse. ‘This isn’t just about Putin’, he told a group I was with in Moscow. ‘It’s about the nature of society as a whole. Putin has been able to rule this country in an authoritarian way with the consent of the governed.’ The imagined liberal majority looking to the West for emancipation doesn’t exist. Russian liberals, he said, ‘have the same problem the revolutionaries have always had in Russia: they look down on the rest of the country as dupes.
‘But Trenin is just as pessimistic about the ability of Russia’s present rulers to address the country’s underlying problems. ‘We will have to expect some sort of upheaval. The dams will have to be broken somehow.’
Read more at Putin’s popularity, explained