Monday, September 24, 2018

Russian ‘Siloviki’ Leaders Worried by Putin’s Course Seeking a New Direction, ‘Russkaya Narodnaya Liniya’ Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 24 – Rumors are circulating in Moscow that the most senior leaders of Russia’s force structures are worried about Vladimir Putin’s current course regarding pension reforms, see the election results as confirmation of their worries that the regime faces increasing opposition from the population, and are now demanding that the Kremlin change course.

            These rumors were given real shape by blogger Aleksey Ivanov in an article last week in the nationalist newspaper Zavtra, the editors of the nationalist Russkaya Narodnaya Liniya portal say. (For Ivanov’s article, see; for RNL’s commentary, see

            According to the Russian blogger, rumors about siloviki concerns regarding the pension reform have been circulating all summer; but they have taken on new form and urgency because of the losses that the government’s United Russia Party suffered – and fears among the siloviki that still worse political changes are ahead. 

            Sources say, Ivanov wrote, that “on the basis” of the election results, Nikolay Patrushev and former defense minister Sergey Ivanov are saying that the pension reform plan must be cancelled lest it become “a long-term source of political instability” and even a direct threat to the regime.

            According to the Zavtra article, Parushev, Ivanov, Belousov, and Glazyev share that view. Volodin, Sobyanin and Chemezov are close to it. Supporters of continuing the planned increase in the pension age include Kudrin, Siluanov, Golikova, Nabiullina, Sechin, Miller, Rotenbeerg, Timbechenko, Kobalchuk, Shuvalov, Gref, Turchak, and Oreshkin.

            Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev occupies “a special position.” He favors going ahead but wants to make sure that he is not made the fall guy for the program, Ivanov wrote.

            “Our ‘Red patriots,’” Russkaya narodnaya liniya argues, “base their constructions on the idea that the pension reform is not a domestic Russian problem but part of a global strategy for the final transformation of the Russian Federation into a raw materials supplier” for the rest of the world.

            By destroying popular support for the government and for “Putin personally,” the pension reform plan could easily lead to “the final loss of sovereignty by the Russian Federation.” In that event, the siloviki know, “they would be the first to be physically destroyed because the final transformation of the Russian Federation into a raw materials colony would be accompanied by the replacement of the existing administrative system.”

            The day after the Zavtra article appeared, a Russian blogger argued that the siloviki leaders see themselves as an integral part of the current system and do not want to see any fundamental change in the system. Policies may have to be sacrificed, however, in order to save the situation (

                Specifically, he said, “for the siloviki, a change in the status quo as a result of a growth in conflict between the authorities and the people, something capable of leading to a revolt leading to the reformation of the entire system and even its defeat” is a personal threat because unlike the liberals, the siloviki couldn’t decamp to the West.

            According to Russkaya narodnaya liniya, the leaders of the force structures are demanding not only a change in policy but the removal of the representative of “the liberal market block from power” lest the latter use popular anger as a means of advancing themselves into power.

            The siloviki argue, the portal says, that they can in fact purge these people, something the liberals can’t do in return.  “Apparently, the portal continues, “the powers that be are beginning to understand” this situation” especially in the wake of the electoral defeats of the previously ruling United Russia Party.

            And at least one possibility that points to is the formation of a new “right-conservative party” which would replace United Russia and do battle with the liberals in order to defend the state and ensure a continuing role for the current siloviki.

            In the hothouse atmosphere that is Moscow, such rumors are inevitable; and by their very nature, they are seldom confirmed and often contradicted. But there is a logic to what Zavtra and Russkaya Narodnaya Liniya say, a logic that may in fact be working its way in the minds of the Kremlin elite.

            To the extent that is possible, it suggests that the split in the Russian power elite the West had hoped to provoke with its sanctions is in fact the result of a self-inflicted wound by the Putin Administration.  And to the extent that is so, those within the regime who are challenging the Kremlin leader on pension reform are in a stronger and much more threatening position.

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