Vladimir Putin first stepped into power 15 years ago.

His leadership has been bolstered by portraying himself as a patriotic and unshakable president, with unmatchable athletic ability.
 
But in the past year, Putin's relationship with the West has deteriorated.
 
Russians are struggling under Western sanctions after Putin's annexation of Crimea and continuing support for Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
  
The rouble has tumbled and the price of oil - Russia's main export - has slumped.
 
But despite all this, Putin's popularity at home has gone up.  
 
The Levada Center - an independent Russian polling and research agency - found 87 percent of Russians approved of Putin, just down from a record-high of 89 percent in June.
 
It's a big increase from 2012 when 64 percent approved of him.
 
So, why are Russians rallying around their leader?
 
Presenter: Laura Kyle
 
Guests:
 
Dmitry Babich - Political Analyst and Contributor to Voice of Russia.
  
Andrei Piontkovsky - Russia Political Analyst and Author of 'Another Look into Putin's Soul'.
 
Denis Volkov - Sociologist at the Levada Center.

Source: Al Jazeera