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Once Putin's chief of staff, Surkov served as deputy prime minister from 2011 to 2013 .Like the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, Surkov is not overly concerned about facts.This is why Surkov portrays Putin, who recently divorced his wife of 30 years and is rumored to have fathered several children with a former Olympic gymnast, as an avatar of conservative values, with the Orthodox Patriarch constantly at his side. The Kremlin's campaign against gay rights has secured the support of the church, while reminding ordinary Russians that the state takes a watchful interest in their lives.There is no credible threat to ordinary Russians, yet Surkov's campaign is having a profound impact.Whatever Russians think of the country's economic malaise – GDP is expected to contract by 3.8 percent this year, while inflation could top 15 percent – they are assured that they would be much worse off without Putin.On my last visit to Moscow, I noticed that a friend, a singer in the Bolshoi opera, had tied a small Ribbon of Saint George to her white Mercedes. Though she is no fan of Putin, she did not want to stand out unnecessarily.It is through small surrenders like hers that men like Surkov ultimately succeed.
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