Of course, we have seen Vladimir Putin compared to every dictator that anyone can think of, but it occurred to me that no one has mentioned someone who forms, I think, a true analogy to Putin- Napoleon.
As in Russia, France in 1787 experienced the sudden collapse of a totalitarian government, followed by a period of political and economic chaos that lasted several years. In the vacuum, a strong man emerged who, at first, seemed to have limited goals for himself, but gradually decided that he would rather be an emperor than a more ordinary political leader.
French rationality and relative liberalism asserted itself in Napoleon's case. Yes, the French people had to endure the rule of a couple of Napoleon's incompetent descendants for a few generations, but they managed to extricate themselves from that, and went on to become a democracy. Russians seem to have a far more autocratic streak than the French, so we will have to see how long they let Putin get away with his behavior.