Beware of Chekists bearing gifts, even for the right wing. "Putain" wants all the benefits of liberalism for his "crony-ocracy" but none of the scrutiny that accompanies being in charge of a (liberal) democracy.
His cynical manipulation of the Russian constitution, alternating between the Presidency and the Premiership, like musical chairs, places Russia in the bracket of banana republic. I'm amazed at the rapt devotion Putin commands in the West, particularly amongst the new media mavens, left and right. I can bet you that should Obama had courted any strategically competing world leader to quite the extent Trump has of Putin, he would have faced all manner of derision and cries of betrayal of the flag etc.
Putin is an cheap Chekist extortionist and dissembler. An atheist all his adult life, he is now reborn as a devout Eastern orthodox congregant, a defender of Christain moral values. Who happens to be very pally with perhaps Europe's most debauched political leader in the last 50 years, Silvio Berlusconi.
He castigates "Western elites" whilst his elitist cronies hobnob with the very same elites at Monaco, New York and London, buying up whole neighbourhoods of prime real estate and trading with them. He is a corporatist and globalist to the core, so far he and his apparatchiks benefit. And he is a barely concealed racist. If you doubt the last accusation, look at the disgusting barrage of vile media articles at the end of Obama's tenure in which Mrs. Obama was described in very crude Klan-like language. The reason ? Because Obama slapped very targeted sanctions on Putin's assets and those of his oligarch friends. An easing of those sanctions happened to be the first subject of discussion his ambassador raised with the in-coming Trump team.
He has waved the threat of Russian nuclear retaliatory war as his chief deterrent, cowering entire armies of the social media chatterati that confrontation with Russia will mean nuclear armageddon. Nonsense. What that analysis implies is that Putin is an irrational man who masks as being rational.
Someone once said that Putin has managed to convince the world that Russia is a bomb only he can defuse.
Yet liberalism is what vexes him whilst he luxoriates in his dachas scattered around Russia.
Trump is deluded if he thinks he can bargain with this tin pot authoritarian. The memories of the humiliation of the USSR still haunt him and animate his critiques of the West. There is not a single year where he doesn't crow at the erosion of "Western values".
The reporter should instead ask Putin what his experience of liberalism actually is ? That'll be an interesting conversation.