Originally published by Haaretz.
The Russian president may have annexed territories and become increasingly authoritarian at home, yet he remains relatively popular around the world – including with some Israelis and Palestinians.
In his motherland, he is revered but rarely (openly) reviled and has a burgeoning personality cult compared to that of Joseph Stalin. Russia’s obsession with its strongman leader, Vladimir Putin, has inspired a perfume in his honor (Leaders: Number One; yours for only $95), life-sized chocolate in his image, and bizarre accolades – including an artist who paints his portrait using her breasts.
But his fellow compatriots aren’t the only ones to hold the Russian president in high esteem. Increasing dissatisfaction with governments in the West and Putin’s brusque military intervention in Syria, in contrast to perceived Western passivity, are gaining him surprise support across the globe.
U.S. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump praised Putin for “bombing the hell out of ISIS,” and said their allegedly mutual dislike of President Barack Obama meant the two would “get along very well.”…