The “Russian psyche” is forged by being invaded by pretty much every major nation in pre-20th Century history, including France, Germany, Poland, Mongolia, China, and The Great Game conflicts between the Russian and British Empires, leading to a kind of siege mentality which was the real aim of the Soviet buildup and ensconcement within the protective clothing of the Warsaw Pact. This, combined with the fact that Russia has (despite notable advances in science, mathematics, literature, theatre, warfare, et cetera) been considered a backward nation that missed global colonialism of the other European empires and was very late to the game with Industrialization, makes for a culture that values strong leadership and protectionist policy over personal freedoms. The recent post-Soviet liberization–in which the people were promised the benefits of a free market economy and personal liberty but received corruption, organized crime, and robber baronism of crucial industries and resources–has probably not done much to sell them on the benefits of democracy over capitalism.
The Soviet era, and particularly the economic slump during Brehznev’s turn at the wheel, was suckatude, but even with long lines and shortages of luxury items, jobs and staple commodities were never lacking, and the Soviet Union was a real (if somewhat hollow) superpower. Now it’s become scarcely better than a Third World nation–no thanks to the Western nations who decided to sit back and see how the Yeltsin thing panned out rather than to offer economic stimulus–and people are probably thinking that the moderate prosperity under Khruschev wasn’t all that bad. There are very relatively few alive and active today who remember what Stalin’s reign was like firsthand, so selling Uncle Joe as a strong-but-benevolent, it-hurts-me-more-than-it-hurts-you, this-is-for-our-own-good leader is a pretty easy marketing ploy. Hell, the United States did the same thing during and right after WWII, when we were still hoping that Stalin wasn’t flipping through the deck to sneak the best hand.
A lack of communications and clear intentions also increased hostility between the two nations; it was, frankly, good policy of the Soviets to subordinate the nations of Eastern Europe into protective client states, just as the nations of Western Europe were following the lead of the United States into the proto-NATO defense alignments and economic control via the Marshall Plan. Today, the Russians don’t have that natural barrier, and with NATO extending membership to former Warsaw Pact nations, then talking about hosting ABM systems and radar uncomfortably close to the Motherland, it’s no wonder that the Russians, with their history of being the focus of invasion, are feeling the need to shed some liberties in favor of security.