Putin's Press Conference on Ukraine Proved Merkel Right: He's Nuts | New Republic: He'd come a long way from the painfully awkward gray FSB officer on Larry King, a year into his tenure. He had grown to become the master of public speaking, who had turned his churlish, prison-inflected slang to his benefit. A salty guy in utter command of a crowd. That Putin was not the Putin we saw today. Today's Putin was nervous, angry, cornered, and paranoid, periodically illuminated by flashes of his own righteousness. Here was an authoritarian dancing uncomfortably in his new dictator shoes, squirming in his throne.
For the last few years, it has become something like conventional knowledge in Moscow journalistic circles that Putin was no longer getting good information, that he was surrounded by yes-men who created for him a parallel informational universe.