Russia doesn’t mind dictators, but it likes its leaders to be competent. For over 2 decades Putin was the personification of that. He rose to become president through a successful war. Once in power, he rebuilt the economy however and he mostly had peaceful relations with his neighbours for his first 2 (highly successful) terms as president. He then willingly became prime minister at the height of his powers. He successfully led a short war against Georgia as prime minister but then it seems he didn’t trust his new president too much and Russia faced some economic stagnation. Once back as president, Putin gradually shifted from being a hybrid regime leader to an outright dictator. The 2011 parliamentary elections were the first time United Russia’s (still diminished) victory was highly disputed and resulted in protests. Putin’s return tot he presidency in the 2012 elections (also diminished compared to his success in 2004) was likewise disputed. Putin embraced strong anti-Western and anti-homosexual stances that have since become popular across Eastern Europe.