David McWilliams: Putin is no angel but he brought stability to Russia
Quite why westerners are perplexed by Vladimir Putin’s popularity is itself perplexing
An activist of Reporters without Borders wears a mask depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin during a protest in front of the Russian embassy to Germany in Berlin, ahead of the start of the 2018 Football World Cup. Photograph: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty
In the summer of 1787, determined to show foreign ambassadors the might of Russian power in the newly-subjugated Ukraine, Catherine the Great organised a boat trip down the Dneiper past modern-day Kiev.
Her trusted field marshal, and her lover at the time, Prince Gregory Potemkin, organised a series of mobile villages to appear as soon as the imperial barge, stuffed with foreign dignitaries, came into view.