Tyrannical and thoroughly disagreeable though he is, Mr Putin stands for nationalistic pride, a crucial buffer against the perils of American foreign policy and a determination to defend a revived Russia on the world stage, and her citizens abroad. Three things I respect, and three things a shrinking world desperately needs.
I love talking to children. They are so unaffected and they can tell you so much more about a society, and in a much more nuanced way, than famous politicians, experts, journalists, and the like. They are even better than taxi drivers who tend to provide such a deconstruction of the social and political life of their country that sometimes I want to say to them - please, take me back to the airport!
Like Pussy Riot, the Novorossiysk "twerk three" were charged with "hooliganism". But for what? Prosecutors apparently argued their twerk video was disrespectful to the memory of those who fought in the Second World War because it was filmed in front of the local war memorial... Like the Pussy Riot church video maybe not to everyone's taste, but a jailable offence?
Putin may win permanent control over the Crimea, but at the cost of abandoning his hard-earned cover of non-interventionism that has coloured Russia's image in the international community, revealing an attitude of pure self-interest that cannot be reconciled with UN values of international peace and cooperation.
Make no mistake: the Sochi Games are Project Putin. The president is a keen skier and he has long been a fan of the Sochi slopes. He has invested a huge amount of personal prestige in these Games, which is why everyone expects that they'll be a huge success. If they fail, Mr Putin fails. And the Russian president doesn't do failure.