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The Putin Paradox: Popularity or Fear?
Thursday, November 1, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Vladimir Putin at the Russian Popular Front Action Forum, 2017 (Photo: en.kremlin.ru)
Unquestionably the predominant political figure in Russia since the turn of the century, Vladimir Putin was elected president in March 2018 for the fourth time, receiving three-quarters of the vote against a field comprising several other candidates. A recent poll in Russia shows that more than half of his countrymen would elect him again in 2024, if they could.
The West has made its dislike and distrust of Putin clear in the media and at gatherings of political leaders. He has been criticized for restricting freedom in Russia and eradicating any real dissent and political opposition. But at home, Putin has exhibited remarkable staying power that few other democratically elected heads of state can rival. How can one explain Putin’s continued pull on Russians? Is his popularity generated or is it genuine–and to what extent? Is it possible for his domestic critics to speak out publicly without fearing for their safety? Historian George E. Munro, an expert in Russian history, explores these questions and more in an absorbing program that examines the case for Vladimir Putin as the leader of Russia.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
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Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)