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Vladimir Putin's attempts to undermine Western democracies in order to keep his grip on power in Russia appear to be failing, Professor Robert Patman says.
The tens of thousands of protesters on the streets of Moscow in recent weeks point to a growing discontent in that economically stagnant, corrupt and increasingly inequitable country, Prof Patman says in the latest edition of Global Insight.
The Russian president likes to project himself as a strong figure. In reality, he is insecure and desperate to hold to power lest he be held to account, the University of Otago international relations specialist says.
To bolster his chances, Putin has been supporting nationalist populists in Western countries, Prof Patman says.
"If he can say to Russian people, 'Look, democracy in the EU and the United States is a mess, it's chaos, it doesn't work', that means he is saying to the Russian people, 'You've got no alternative but to accept my leadership'."
There are signs that strategy may not be working for Putin.
Many Russian young people are attracted to liberal democratic values. And young people made up a large proportion of the recent Moscow protests.
"I think he is facing a downward trajectory, essentially.''