She is right about how things were never "as bad" - at least, that is probably the case if she grew up in Moscow. People know what their life experience has been.
Also, if the comparison is to the late 90s when the ruble was devalued, it's very understandable to think things were never as bad as that.
Finally, she is right that Putin is well liked. Things are stable and prosperous - what's not to like? The fact that it's basically all due to the world market for energy that Russia sits on, those aren't dots that the average person is likely to connect. Same basic reason why so many people were willing to give Clinton credit for the internet boom which he had nothing to do with.
*I'm married to a Russian.
We also got into it this weekend about stem cells. She is very adamant that there should be massive federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. No amount of discussion could even begin to sway her that the science in this field has actually moved beyond embryonic stem cells since they can now reproduce pluripotent cells from skin cells without having to destroy embryos. She thinks (as many Americans do, I’m sure) that since all these babies are being aborted anyway, they ought to be able to harvest their stem cells for research.
On nearly every other issue, she’s a true-blue conservative, but on this one, she’s thrown me for a loop.