I used to have a nuanced admiration for him (maybe I still do) combined with the feeling that he's good for Russia (maybe he still is? At least compared to the other options?). I've dome more research into the state of Russian media since then, and now am under the impression that he has about as much control over it as Berlusconi did (does?) over the Italian media. Also, Putin has a bit of a cult-of-personality thing going on with his Putin Youth Movement. Cults of personality are pretty damaging for my ability to respect a political leader, particularly combined with threats of violence or use of media controls to stifle dissent. I may be willing to accept autocracy under some circumstances (I am not committed to democracy as a primary goal, but it can be a reasonable end to many social ends and does provide certain safeguards that autocracy does not), but it must be open to criticism, it must permit protest, and it must not be about the people at the top (it must be about principles/good governance/serving the people). Also, the mechanisms must be authentically and openly autocratic if they are to be acceptable as-such. Running a sham democracy is disgraceful.
I still do not know of anyone better suited to lead Russia than Putin (some people are fans of Kasparov, but the man strikes me as being almost as crazy as Bobby Fisher; in my experience, mastery of mathlike domains tends to produce awful political tendencies), but certainly that respect I had for him is greatly diminished.
Recently, Putin half-stole an election, in the sense that he announced that he was going to be the next President of Russia, the election date came, his party (United Russia) began to tank pretty badly due to the opposition deciding to make a unified front against him and vote for anyone-but-Putin (rather than boycott, which they've often done), and midway through they committed massive election fraud with some regions showing a healthy voter participation rate of about 160%.
*The election watchdogs cried foul, he called them traitors to the nation and had them silenced through the court system
*Protests erupted, he claimed that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton incited them
*Mikhail Gorbachev said aloud what everyone knew; that the elections were massively fraudulent and called for them to be scrapped and for a redo
One of the things that the more corrupt nations of the world are learning is that society is considerably more willful and resilient than it ever has been; extralegal corruption, theft of elections, and putting down dissent is no longer something nations can count on managing, and people are becoming bold enough to challenge official-but-inaccurate narratives. The only things left for autocratic regimes is either not to hold elections at all or to embrace new forms of corruption; corruption in the United States is so difficult to root out because the remaining forms of it are legal, emergent, and irresistable. Our politicians serve the interests of the wealthy and of corporations not because of bribery that usually personally benefits the recipient, but rather through offers to finance the next campaign season (and possibly positions in lobbying after elected life ends). Perhaps that's the only form of corruption that's sustainable in the long run (as those who could correct it would need to collectively coordinate against their immediate self-interest in truly remarkable ways).