Historically and culturally Russians have always favoured a very strong, almost totalitarian leader. They seem to like to look up to father like figure that can say and do the strong things that give them pride in their countries strengths. When I was in Moscow I saw two separate marches where people were singing praises of Stalin, for example. Politicians like Gorbachev are ignored and thought of as pencil pushing geeks whereas Putin is seen just as he wants to be seen: ex KGB martial arts expert who can kick a** for Russia. Its like the strength of Russia embodied in its leader.