Unfortunately the reality is that Putin means a stable system of administrative corruption slowly driving the country into the ground. The main difference between the 1990s and the 2000s for Russia is that the chaotic criminal oligarchic system of power has been replaced by a state-bureuacratic and oligarchic system, though their goals and the results of their activity are ultimately the same.
This simple visual tool, based on a discussion by Russian-Armenian political scientist Sergei Kurginyan, describes concisely Putin's role in the preservation of Russia:
Russians truly should appreciate Putin for his work in consolidating Russia and for preventing it from falling apart, which in 2000 was a real possibility. It is also fair to note that tax revenues have gone up considerably from those oligarchs that chose to remain in the country and from partial re-nationalization of some resource industries. Still, oil and gas prices helped tremendously, and this has been something nearly entirely out of the Russian government's ability to control. The reality is that 20 years after the destruction of the USSR, Russia continues to sit on the achievements of the Soviet system. This includes its nuclear shield (which many consider the only reason Russia has been able to avoid invasion over the past 20 years), infrastructure, housing, industry, military tech, and even the oil and gas pipeline infrastructure upon which the country is now so dependent. By choosing to integrate the country with the world market system, Putin has implicitly accepted the fact that Russia's role and so-called 'competitive advantage' is to be a provider of natural resource provider to the world. Today, with the proposed entry into the WTO, the country is in danger of losing whatever's left of agriculture and almost every major non-resource based industry.
When thinking of Putin, instead of merely viewing the personality and public image, you should also be thinking of his long-serving ministers, such as finance minister Alexei Kudrin (only recently removed by Medvedev) who chose to put large amounts of Russian treasury reserves in the US and then borrowed that same money back at a higher interest. Or minister of defense Anatoli Serdukov, a former furniture salesman who has virtually no experience with the military and who has allocated vast amounts towards purchasing foreign weaponry and prepared the army for a massive reduction in manpower and professionalization. Or Andrei Fursenko, whose education reforms, proposed to go into effect this fall, will emphasize Russian language and physical education in the curriculum and make literature, history, and sciences paid optional credits. Then there are the dozens of new oligarchs and personal friends of Putin who have amassed their wealth with the aid of government contracts. In fact the common connection here is that virtually all of these people are friends from Putin's Leningrad days as assistant to liberal mayor Sobchak, the latter one of the main anti-socialist and anti-Soviet personalities during perestroika.
If you want to see Russia with rose-tinted glasses, watch Russia Today. If you want to see lies and bullshit from Western resources, watch and read them. To get the real picture you should stick to Russian sources not connected to the government, and watch and read some political analyses by people like Andrei Fursov, Mikhail Delyagin, Sergei Kurginyan, Maxim Kalashnikov, Alexander Prokhanov, and Mikhail Weller (I'm not sure if you read or understand Russian or not).