“Fear of Russia is on the rise, while Russians feel threatened and misunderstood,” says Nekrasov. “The annexation of the Crimea, which Russians consider their own, and the support for Russian brethren in Eastern Ukraine fighting the Ukraine government they don’t recognize have made Putin more popular than ever in Russia, turning him into a pariah in the outside world.”

The topical series explores these contradictory views of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, speaking to a wide range of Russian citizens, from power brokers to prison reformers, analysts to anarchists, bloggers to priests.

Individual episodes investigate perceptions about Russia’s democracy, economy, empire and culture respectively.

25 years after the Cold War, what do Russians want and why do they repeatedly vote for a man who seems to be pulling them back to a new version of their past?

In Search of Putin’s Russia airs on Monday, 2 November at 22:00 on Al Jazeera English, channel 406 on DStv. New episodes premiere each Thursday.

For more information, visit www.aljazeera.com. Alternatively, connect with them on Facebook or on Twitter.