Vladimir Putin was democratically elected ... if you ignore his crackdown on peaceful demonstrations, jailing political opponents, and a surprising number of opponents found dead !
Nevertheless, he is very popular with Russians!
Putin took over in winter of 1999/2000 when Russia was being carved up by other KGB-connected Communists, who started calling themselves 'businessmen'.
These people had expected to take power as the next generation of Communist Party leaders.
When Communism failed, they decided they would take power as the first generation of rich businessmen.
They controlled the privatization programs and knew the value of Russia's natural resources (assuming private owners could set the prices, rather than the government, which was never interested in making a profit).
They bought Russia's natural resources for extremely low prices, financed with loans from Western banks, helped by using intimidation and violence to scare away other interested buyers!
Putin ended up calling these people "state-appointed billionaires".
Some of them were Boris Berezovsky, Vladimir Gusinsky and Mikhail Khodorkovsky (who Putin recently had jailed for ten years).
The Russian people viewed what happened after communism collapsed as "democracy", and didn't like it -- they believed the post-Communism leaders made the country worse than it was under Communism!
Western political scientists didn't help by calling this a "transition to capitalism", and Western banks didn't help by providing the financing to create those 'instant billionaires'.
Putin restrained the billionaires who were looting the country.
That's one reason the people there like him.