On the one hand, he looks "ideological,” promoting values like “patriotism,” "traditionalism" and anti-Westernism. On the other hand, he is presented as effective, an experienced and competent manager. Herein lies the weak spot of Putin's image. Until now, most of the political attacks on him were ideological, accusing him of violating human rights, the principles of democracy and so on. He fended them off relatively easily using the ideas of "patriotism" and "traditional values.”
Falling living standards make the regime vulnerable
However, the visionary playbook works poorly against attacks from the other side, those that call into question his effectiveness. There it begins to look like "hot air," "empty chatter." You can be whatever "patriot" you like, but if you turn out to be a bad crisis manager and do a poor job of managing the system, then you are of little use to the Fatherland. Putin hasn’t been systematically and consistently attacked from the standpoint of effectiveness, and this was a big mistake of his opponents. If someone were now trying to seriously and professionally undermine Putin’s image, then this is where he would focus his efforts. He would launch, so to speak, a “second front.”
The fact is that the Russian regime will have a hard time proving its effectiveness while living standards are falling. The only thing that such an opponent must do is not to allow Putin to shift the responsibility onto the "traditional" domestic scapegoats – sloppiness, red tape, bureaucratism and so on. Thus, criticism should be focused on the personal decisions of the leader.
The war is already starting to disappear from the front pages and soon will fade into the background. Issues like the economy, domestic policy, living standards and social problems will again come to the fore. This will be a moment of weakness for Putin – in such situations his ratings start to decline even without any focused external influence. If organized, such influence could significantly speed up the process. If a political actor was actually carrying out a major targeted campaign against Putin, then he would create a pool of experts who, having given up fighting a war with the regime on the “ideological” front, would take up public analysis and criticism of the economic policy pursued by the government from a non-ideological standpoint.