In Russia ’s case, it has been easy for Putin to tarnish liberal democrats by associating them in the popular mind with past policies of accommodation and even subservience to the United States and the West. ~Robert Kagan

Putin didn’t need to do any of the tarnishing or the associating.  The Russian liberals did that themselves by enabling and then openly cavorting with the criminals who looted the country during the plunder that was privatisation.  Russian liberals were, are, accommodating and subservient to the U.S. and the West.  Indeed, that seems to be the essence of what passes for Russian liberalism (which is, in reality, about as liberal as the “colour revolutions” were democratic).  “Russian liberalism” simply means the transplanting of western European and American managed democratic capitalism in which they, the “liberals,” will serve as the managing elite and organise things according to their particular interests.  This would inevitably require  them to ignore what most Russians want and what most Russians believe.  Not surprisingly, because of the very nature of what they believe and the policies they have endorsed and would support in the future, these liberals cannot make it very far in Russia.  This is not some cunning ruse by Putin–they brought it on themselves when they effectively turned against their countrymen.