Russian President Vladimir Putin is increasingly proving that he’s one of the few people in the world who are powerful enough to do whatever they want and still get away with it. Even after he waged war-by-proxy in Ukraine and seized Crimea, which drove Russia into a deep recession, not much changed. His approval ratings have been skyrocketing for over a decade and a half now.

President Putin has consistently enjoyed continued support of his country’s military, political and economic elites, as well as Russia’s population. According to a poll conducted in February 2015 by a not-for-profit independent Russian research agency called Levada Center, 54 % of the population agreed that Russia was moving in the right direction, while 86% approved President Vladimir Putin as Russia’s president. 59% also mentioned Putin as one of the politicians they can trust. The survey was from 1,600 Russians above 18 years of age and from 46 different regions in Russia.

Most Russians do adore their president andcat times the world wonders why. When you delve into why the Russian people support him that much, you realize that it dates back to the 1990s when Boris Yeltsin, the first Russian President was in power. At first sight, the masses fell in love with him and believed that he was a strong enough man to take Russia to the next level.

But it is in the 90s, that Russia went through numerous political, economic, and socio-cultural upheavals. The traditional principles, practices, and norms were dismantled and new democratic habits put in place, which unfortunately didn’t successfully replace the old ones. Russians view that time with so many mixed emotions with most of them terming it the most painful period of their life. Russia felt abused, since Boris did steal almost everything from the country, leaving it literally battered and naked. People felt like they had had enough with his type and wanted a different personality for Boris’ successor.

In 1999, Vladimir Putin’s presidency materialized as he assumed office on December 31, 1999, after Boris resigned and nominated him to sit in as the acting President. Putin would then step down to allow his protégé take over, but it wasn’t long enough before he was nominated to be the Prime Minister by Dmitry Medvedev. In 2012, roles reversed and Putin was re-elected to the top office. Others might label him a modern day dictator because of the vote-rigging accusations, invasion in the neighboring territories of Georgia and Ukraine, and also the passing of the anti-liberal laws.

Putin is surrounded by fascination since he has led such an intriguing life. Right from when he began his career as a member of the secret police, to inspiring an online comic superhero, and not forgetting his reported affair with a Russian spy and rumored personal fortune. Putin’s life is analogous to a captivating movie. But even with so much side shows that make people love to hate him, why do they still choose to support and adore him? Below are just some of the rational explanations.

1. Putin is a strong character and leader

Russia has a history of having formidable leaders, whether repressive or autocratic, ranging from Peter the Great to Ivan the Terrible. Putin is undoubtedly one of the strongest political leaders the world has ever had the chance of meeting. Not only is he a brilliant public speaker, but also a strategist and controls each and every dialogue.

2.Putin cemented Russia’s middle class

There is no longer the popular view that Russians are either extremely poor or super rich. Today, so many people can afford a good ride, travel abroad, shop in designer locations, and do virtually anything else that a middle-class individual can afford to do. According to the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, Russia’s gross national product per capita rose to 461,300 roubles in 2003 from 49,000 in 2000. Also Russian citizens traveled abroad 38.5 million times in 2013 from 9.8 million in 2000. All this has been achieved since Putin came into power.

3. Putin has immensely worked on the social welfare in Russia

Putin has touched on just almost everything regarding the welfare reforms, from investing in healthcare, education and raising pensions, to improving infrastructure and implementing social security laws which will encourage families to have more children as a way of addressing the increasingly declining population. In 2013, Russia recorded higher birth rates compared to death rates which was a first for the last 20 years. The average pension rose to 9,918 roubles in 2012 from 694 roubles in 2,000 which is quite impressing. The crime rates, including murder, reduced from 28.2% in 2000 to 10.1 % in 2012 (deaths from murder per every 100,000 people). In 2012, there was 9.3 hospital beds in Russia per 1,000 people as compared to 3 beds per 1,000 people in the United Kingdom in 2011.

4. Putin has tirelessly worked to restore Russian might

Putin has demonstrated how dedicated he is to work on the issues that matter to the Russian people throughout his time in the top office. He has focused on upholding the integrity of Russia, pushing its untouchable influence in international relations, and also its ability to withstand the US dictating its policies to the whole world. He has done well with the economy and welfare. It’s his ability to think on a much larger scale and globally. Putin gradually building the Russian defense industry is actually his strategic priority.

Putin protected Russia’s military base on the Black Sea when he took over Crimea, which was an important step at the time following the hostility of NATO and the US. When Putin bombed ISIS forces in Syria and met face-to-face with President Assad, it made NATO and the US look weak in the region and significantly helped Russia rebuild its influence abroad. China is now a force to reckon with since it regained its self-respect after it came out of the 1990s financial ashes and restored its national pride.

5. Ultimately, there is no one but Vladimir Putin

Russia lacks any other viable options. There is no one who has proven that he or she can do much better and push the country further than Putin can do. The Russian opposition is neither capable nor convincing. Putin has an insurmountable track record of delivering on economic instability regardless of how he reached it. That’s what the Russians care about. As they say, “the end justifies the means” and as long as people are seeing results that positively influence them, so little concentration is put on the negative.

Vladimir Putin is quite influential, and he has worked so hard as a staunch leader to leave such a legacy that so many people in the world can easily relate to. This is exactly what Putin has been doing for the Russian people even if not exactly in a way that the global world is happy about. Putin is ready to succeed against all odds as long as he is defending the interests of his people, even if it means jeopardizing Russia’s relationship with the international community.