How many republics and ethnic groups would now be clamouring for independence if he wasn't the president?
I know that some people like to portray Putin as some sort of hated and mad dictator which, if only they could, the Russian people would like to rid themselves of, but the stark reality is that Putin has personal approval ratings which western leaders can only fantasize about.
This isn't a recent phenomenon either, Putin's personal approval ratings have consistently been far higher than any other major world leader.
And no, this isn't based on dodgy Russian state polls, it's based on reliable independent polls which the western media recognizes as such.
Putin’s Approval Rating Reaches Record High in Russia
Why Putin Is in Trouble With 86% Approval
Vladimir Putin's Approval Rating Is Still Higher Than It's Been In A Long Time
Can anyone imagine Obama, Cameron, or Hollande, enjoying approval ratings over 80% ?
Russian elections might be corrupt but that goes back to Boris Yeltsin, the corrupt alcoholic which the West approved of so much. Unlike Yeltsin Putin doesn't actually need to fix election results.
Putin does indeed preside over a repressive administration, there's no doubt about that, but it's almost certainly less corrupt than Yeltsin's was, or the Ukraine is today. And much of the repressive nature of his administration meets with public approval, in fact when it comes to gay rights opinion polls show that the Russian public is more homophobic than the government.
Some people need to accept that many Russian are unimpressed by the west, and hard as it might be for them to understand many ethic Russians in Ukraine don't want to be part of the EU and NATO, they feel closer ties with Putin's Russia with which they have cultural links and which provides them businesses opportunities and livelihoods, unbelievable eh ?