Putin may be like that because Russians want him to be like that.
In Russia, they do not respect non-authoritarian leaders. The late President Boris Yeltsin is considered a clown, and people I spoke to in Russia have no respect for him. They view him as the leader who destroyed the Soviet Union. Gorbachev, who is another “friendly” leader (in style) is not respected either. Medvedev, who is open and seeks democratization within Russia, is considered a lightweight and weak.
It is Putin people respect. He is strong. He is decisive. He is tsarist.
…From my vantage point working often in Russia the past two years, the West is judging him harshly, ignoring the culture within which he operates and the limitations it places on him.