Vladimir Putin receives incomplete and distorted information about conditions in Russia and he is often deceived by his aides.
The Kremlin leader is also highly dependent on the security services.
And he acts largely in the interests of the security services, oligarchs, bankers, and business tycoons.
Now, just to be clear, these are not my opinions.
They are the findings of a new poll by the independent Levada Center on Russians' opinions about their leader.
And while these findings are not surprising, they are nonetheless revealing.
Because despite the wall-to-wall propaganda on the airwaves, they show us that Russians continue to be extremely savvy and extremely perceptive about their rulers and about the true nature of the system that governs them.
But here's the thing. They're OK with this -- at least for now.
Or, at least they say they are OK with it.
Because according to another recent Levada Center poll, a stunning 82 percent of Russians nevertheless approve of Putin's performance as president.
Now, does this mean that Russians don't object to being governed by a man who is misinformed and dependent on powerful entrenched interests?
Does it mean that they are not telling the truth to pollsters?
Or does it mean that they separate Putin the myth and the symbol from the very real system he presides over?
Is it just the latest manifestation of the old Russian belief in the good tsar and the bad boyars?
I don't have answers -- at least not today.
But this paradox is worth keeping in mind as Russia enters another election season and as Putin prepares for what many in Moscow believe will be his last campaign.
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