Putin’s current tactics for social control are cunning and effective. His popularity rating––a vexed statistic in an authoritarian country––is at eighty per cent. “For less sophisticated people, he relies on brainwashing,” Guriev said. “For more sophisticated but less honest people, he needs to bribe them. For honest, sophisticated people, he uses repression.” The President doesn’t much care if he has pushed an independent mind like Guriev out of the country. He knows that his real cronies––the men from the K.G.B., from his judo club, from Ozero, his dacha co-op near St. Petersburg––have nowhere to go. They will either suffer the Western sanctions, which could cut into their billions, or make the highly dangerous move of plotting against their patron.
David Remnick, “Putin and the Exile”, The New Yorker (28 April 2014), 20.