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Putin, the Pop Star

As the war continues in Ukraine and many Russians try to leave their own country, we look back at photographer Bela Doka’s series on the motivations of the Russian youth that historically supported the president.

Roman, member of the Putin Fan Club.

Yulia Minazhetdinova, 17, Russian State Social University. When I entered university I met Igor and he invited me to the events. I really like Vladimir Vladimirovich, I'm grateful to him that he ended the war in Chechnya, and we paid the largest part of the external debt. He raised pensions and social allowances. I have many things with his image: pins, t-shirts, a screensaver. My parents are against my hobby, they say I don't understand politics but I don't think so. Putin is my hero, he inspires me.

Tanya Arkhipova, 18, Moscow Regional Medical College. I first noticed Putin in 2000. Although I was only 11, I clearly understood that something was wrong with the president then. When a new person came I became interested in his political programme. I like how Putin treats his children and wife, I think he’s a great husband. He made people respect Russia, I can tell by my parents. Life is more stable, there’s development. In the next few years I would like to help young people grow, support them, and connect young professionals with employers. Among my favourite books are: A. Kolesnikov’s “Putin Has Seen Me” and “Putin. First Person Narration”.

Yulya, member of the Putin Fan Club.

Lena, 19, Moscow State Pedagogical University. Putin completes everything he starts. I think he is a good role-model for young people. He has two daughters of my age, he is a family man, he is friendly with everyone. He is a real diplomat, working on connections with other countries. Four more years of such intensive development and we'll reach the level of life of the European countries having kept the traditions at the same time.

Kirill Romanov, 17, State Land Development University. I’ve been in the Putin Fan Club since its first days. Now discuss his decisions, life and hobbies with my friends. Moscow looks different now and it lost its uncivilised and spontaneous approach, it’s well-planned and the city looks more and more like a European capital. The last event I took part in was the action on the Red Square. It was well-covered by the press and such events charge you with energy. The aim is to show our loyalty to the president, and it's good PR for the club in terms of attracting more members.

Tanya, member of the Putin Fan Club.

Tanya Skoropistseva, 20, Russian Academy of Education. My friends invited me to the organisation Walking Together and at first he left me unimpressed, but then I noticed him by his actions. If Putin hadn’t changed Russian politics we’d still be a cheap labour force. Oil prices have come up with him. He fosters civil surveillance. I want my husband to be like Putin. - Lyosha Sobolkov, 18, Modern Humanitarian Academy. In the 90s nobody traveled much and now it’s affordable. That’s Putin’s achievement. At FSB he had studied for five years under a different name, first studying law and then in the intelligence service. I do judo and I’d love him to be my trainer. I fought at the Moscow Championship and I want to be as successful as Putin.

Igor, leader of the Putin Fan Club.

Alina, 19, Moscow State Pedagogical University. Putin is the president who has led our country out of the crisis and raised us to a new level. I first heard about Putin when Eltsin spoke about him. I looked into his personality, biography and I became interested in him as a person. When I joined the fan club I wanted to be active. In the future I want to work in education and I want to improve its quality in our country. Every day I look for publications in the press, on the internet, I learn from newspapers about what is going on in his political and personal life. I consider myself a patriot.

Follow Bela Doka’s work on his

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