(The New Zealand Herald) All politicians like to have props, and in Vladimir Putin's case, some are taken from the box marked Macho and others from the box marked Mother Russia. He has ridden a Harley-Davidson in Crimea, flown into war-ravaged Chechnya in a Sukhoi Su-27 fighter, blasted an ice-hockey puck towards the goal during a "friendly" match against Finland and wrestled with wild animals. […]
Russian analyst Arkady Moshes of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs said Putin had already primed the Russian public to rally behind the flag through the state media. His approval rating was 80 per cent when he annexed Crimea and has risen slightly since then.
"The people have been bombarded for more than a year by massive propaganda, according to which Russia is a victim of Western aggression, that the most powerful coalition of the world, led by the United States and including Europe is doing everything to destroy Russia," said Moshes. […]
"I think he is going to survive and in 2018 he will still be the President of Russia and [also] in 2024, depending on this health," predicted Moshes. "All the challenges are manageable because he has the loyalty of the repressive machine that he has built and the propaganda machine – and in many respects, he is still genuinely popular."
See the full article ("Ordinary Russians secret to Putin survival") © The New Zealand Herald