Russia’s Vladimir Putin is undoubtedly seen as a major ‘bad guy’ in the West. The controversial punishment of Pussy Riot; the ban on the ‘promotion of non-traditional sexual relations’ and the omnipresence of the security services – creates the impression of an oppressed nation. But many polls continue to suggest that the majority of Russians support government policies and the political opposition has failed to gain popular support. Is the West’s finger pointing justified, are Russians just suckers for ‘strong men’? A panel of experts shed some much needed light on what’s going on, in this timely Battle of Ideas debate in the run up to the Winter Olympics in Sochi.