“We used to be huge and strong, and then it collapsed,” she said. But what for the 61-year-old Mr Putin amounts to an acute sense of lost glory is for Ms Chernysheva, 18, an opinion based almost entirely on wistful tales handed down by nostalgic parents. She was born five years after the Soviet Union fell apart.

Mr Putin’s moves this year to annex Crimea and to support pro-Russian movements in Ukraine appear to have resonated with a younger generation that has no memory of the Soviet Union but yearns for its power.

According to the Levada Centre, an independent polling organisation in Moscow, the President’s high approval rating among young people tops even his numbers among an older generation that remembers the empire and views Crimea and Ukraine as essentially Russian.