I can see Putin being scared of people actually having some modicum of freedom
The trouble is, not only Putin is terrified, but much more than half of Russians are terrified at the thought of freedom. It's really scary for them. Once I talked to my relative, hard-working man from rural Russia, who had small business at that time selling CD disks. A told him about the internet and how it works. That was before widespread adoption of internet in Russia, 2001 or 2002 i think. He was really shocked when I told him that there is no censorship. "HOW THAT?!" he screamed! He thought that people would go nuts if they have freedom.
Yes, they are scared.
Recently Turks shot down Russian plane and its flight recorder was brought back to Russia. Government decided to show the process of opening that flight recorder on TV. Well, everyone who can solder, including patriots were shocked at the sight of bad design and that bad design was the cause of broken chips. That modern, recently made, flight recorder was extremely expensive and said to stand against huge acceleration, but in reality designed like highschool boys do. All money were stolen and the result was outrageously bad. And I saw a lot of comments from patriots on varous forums that "yes that's very bad, there must be investigation, we know that nobody is going to be prosecuted for making such crap, but doing anything to curb corrupt government is out of question, because that mean going aginst it! it means supporting amerika! ouch! nonono..".
But everything started in late 90s and early 2000s with wild use of "terrorist" label. It's a gate to hell. Way too easy to slap on anybody for anything.