Something which has been obvious for some time is that any newspaper that criticises Putin will be overwhelmed with comments supportive of the Kremlin. Indeed judging from newspaper comment sections you would think that far from being one of the least trusted governments on Earth, as polls suggest, that Putin was wildly popular. Part of that is paid Russian shills as could be inferred by the tone and poor English of many comments but some of them are genuine.
These appear to people on the far left- the Seamus Milnes and George Galloways of this world- and those on the paleo right. I don't mean the strict non interventionists who have been dismayed by the disastrous result of the Iraq War but those who are actually pro-Putin. While few on the right are quite as craven as Pat Buchanan who seems to think that the USA should be run from Moscow the idea does keep coming up that Putin is a conservative.
It's true to an extent, but only because conservative is a meaningless term in an international sense. If what you're conserving is state autocracy and unchecked power you aren't exactly a political descendent of Edmond Burke. Some point to his campaign for "family values" and religion, but on that basis Mullah Omar is an ally- there is a dividing line between "Culturally conservative" and "Primitive".
Others seem to like him because he is hostile to the EU. I favour leaving the EU but to find the organisation to be worse than Putin's Russia shows a complete lack of proportion. The EU passes directives that interfere in an unwarranted manner in domestic politics, Russia invades countries who refuse to let the Kremlin decide their economic alliances. Of course he is quite useful for Europhiles in any case- who thinks the British public would vote for withdrawal from an international club while a dictator is attacking isolated countries?
Howard Jacobson on Manchester
2 minutes ago