The article is devoted to ideal representations of the Russian president as held by Russian citizens, and the influence of such ideals on how a leader is perceived in reality. There have been few attempts to study this phenomenon, beyond mainly opinion polls. From the perspective of Political Psychology, analyzing this issue is taking place for the first time. In the fall of 2019, two different qualitative studies were conducted: one being the study of Putin’s image in Russian society, the second being on the image of an ideal president. Methodology in both studies was comparable. This article describes the contents and mechanisms of how an ideal president is perceived. The theoretical part of the study tackles ideal representations in the framework of various political, psychological and sociological approaches, focusing predominantly on the theory of political perception. In the empirical part, the image of Putin and the image of the ideal president are described and compared on three scales: attractiveness, strength and activity. The study led to the discovery of the commonality and differences in the images of real and ideal presidents in the minds of Russian citizens, and concludes that ideal representations are responsible for the deepest level of political culture that determines people’s demands and expectations for real presidents.