© 2020 Copyright 2020 by Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh. What constitutes Putinism, in particular its ideological nature, have become major issues of debate in the last few years. This discussion has been characterized by a tendency either to overestimate the role of ideology in the Russian political system, to see it as being akin to the role played by ideology in the USSR, or to discount the role of ideology quite heavily. This article argues that neither of these positions is correct and that we need a more nuanced appreciation of Putin's role as an ideologist and of the role of ideology in the era of Putin. The article argues that there is a difference between ideological discourses produced to support the regime and those produced at the apex of the regime by Putin. This difference means that Putinism is incomplete as an ideological system. It is ideological but not to the point where ideology has institutionalized and a bind on Putin.