One of the reasons is the well-organized Russian propaganda.
The Russian president, notes Der Spiegel, is loved by many in Germany: supporters of the anti-liberal patriarchy, admirers of Russia as a great cultural power, enemies of America and the European Union, Trump fans and other lovers of conspiracy theories, extreme right and left radicals. This love extends not only to the Internet.
German politics is riddled with Putinists. Ahead is the former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who caused more damage with his Gazprom morality than Helmut Kohl with "black cash". The far-right Alternative for Germany, half of the left, a quarter of the Social Democrats and some important figures in the liberal Free Democrats, CDU and CSU will always agree among themselves that Putin should be treated gently, even if he starts drinking blood of babies in front of cameras. Free Democrat Wolfgang Kubicky in this case will emphasize that until the court has passed a final verdict, one should not make hasty conclusions. Leftist politician Klaus Ernest will ask why Putin should drink the blood of babies and add that this is a CIA conspiracy. AfD's Alexander Gauland recalls the long tradition of drinking the blood of babies. Even one of the candidates for the chancellor of the CDU, Armin Laschet, has nothing against close friendship with Putin.
Meanwhile, three laboratories confirmed that Alexei Navalny had been poisoned by the most Russian of all poisons - Novichok. And still, there are a lot of people on the Internet who claim that it was not Putin.
What does Vladimir Putin mean for his fans?
For patriarchal anti-liberals, the Russian president is an antidote to the “decline of the West”, by which they mean feminism, the struggle for the rights of minorities, and the penetration of various cultures into German life. Ukrainian Marina Vaysband, who became a red rag for German trolls because of her position on Crimea and Donbass, once wrote: "Show me at least one supporter of Putin who would respect women". This type of supporter admires macho staging of Russian propaganda and longs for a simple life with a clear distribution of roles in it. For them, Putin is the image of a father who will clean up all the problems left by women, homosexuals and foreigners.
For lovers of Russian culture, Putin personifies not only and not so much Russia's present as its past. German intellectuals, who would never dream of calling Angela Merkel a symbol of Germany, do it with ease with regard to the Russian president.
For the enemies of America and the European Union, Putin is the opposite of the United States. Whoever hates America should love Putin - this simple vision is fueled by Russian propaganda. This is mixed with hatred of NATO, unwillingness to distinguish shades and half-tones, not to think about history and not to understand modernity. For those who hate the establishment, Vladimir Putin is a savior; he will save them from the United States, the European Union and a very difficult reality.
Trump fans and conspiracy theorists appreciate what they admire about Trump about Putin. Their position can be described in three words - authoritarianism, nationalism and anti-liberalism. If something goes wrong, Merkel and the EU are to blame, and all hope is on Trump and / or Putin.
It comes as no surprise that German right-wing radicals, with their anti-democratic stance, love Putin. The extreme left is surprising. Perhaps the reason for this phenomenon is that some of them want to go back to the Soviet Union, to a society of social justice for old white men with guaranteed wages.
That there is such a variety of Putin fans on the German Internet is no coincidence, but the result of well-funded propaganda. In the Soviet Union, there has always been information propaganda support during wars and conflicts. Since at least 2014, this information war has been raised to a new level. Putin's chef Prigozhin, with his troll factories, has created entire propaganda "digital troops". Their products have improved dramatically, as they realized that the Internet, like no other medium, can successfully promote Putin's interests. They are assisted by state propagandists from the Republic of Tatarstan Germany or its version for the left - redfish.
The news flair of RT products is adorned with emotions through the network of accounts built several years ago, and the products are distributed on the Web. The main idea - the decay of the West and its weakness - works on both the right and left flanks. Propaganda is embedded in the discussion about the correct paths to be taken to solve problems. In fact, political debate is the power of democracy. Movements such as #MeToo, #Fridays for Future and #BlackLivesMatter, without the Internet, would not have been able to advance and win supporters as much as they did. The Russian propaganda machine uses debate for its own purposes, mobilizing those who see themselves as losers in the modernization process. It is especially evident how RT Germany instrumentalizes human doubts: "We show the missing elements of the overall picture." Viewers of the channel are immediately informed that he is hiding something from them. With this trick, insecurity is sown, and any stupidity is presented as an informed opinion. Latently, the audience is made to understand that only they can be trusted.
Thus, Putin's fans become easy prey for propagandists. But they can speak because Germany is a free country. In Russia, they would have had a hard time - according to the report of Reporters Without Borders for 2019, Russia ranks 149 out of 180 possible in terms of freedom of the press.
But the biggest fan of Putin lives not in Germany, but in Washington. Donald Trump wrote in his letter to Vladimir Putin in 2007: "As you may have heard, I am your big fan!"