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>that Putin is a sort of Scooby Doo Soviet dictator in disguise
No scooby doo stuff involved. If you look at how Putin has altered Russia's constitution and legal frameworks just to benefit himself and enable him to stay in power almost indefinitely, then he's at least not somebody we would lightly call a good democrat.
That said, I think there is plenty of exaggeration going around at the moment. Putin didn't take Crimea for the sake of stealing land from a foreign country, but because it is the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea fleet. The pro-Western, pro-American revolution in Ukraine was a serious threat to Russia's unhindered access to its own naval bases in the area.
Russian politics tends to be crude. If there had been an anti-Western revolution in some Central or South American country where the U.S. has major military bases, then the Americans probably would have used all their clandestine political might to sabotage the revolutionaries. Putin did a quite probably massively rigged referendum to annex the whole Crimea peninsula. Same effect, different means.
But to think that Putin would send troops to Belarus is just nonsense. For what? To what end? This isn't the Soviet Union anymore that sent tanks into Prague in 1968. Putin may be an autocrat, but I am sure he's not stupid enough to come to the aid of a fellow autocrat who could be facing expulsion if there's really going to be a revolution.
At the end of it though, I think a lot of the protest against Lukashenko is secretly instigated by the West. The Americans are probably doing a similar job as they did in Ukraine in 2012-2013 and are heavily supporting the protesters and equipping them both with money and manpower. Except you won't read that in Western newspapers.