Staunton, June 16 – It is a mistake to think that members of the force structures are completely tied to the Putin regime. If the Kremlin mistreats them as many of their members feel has been true in the Golunov case, it is “probable” that “part of the siloviki have already gone over to the side of the Kremlin liberals,” Leonid Razvozzhayev says.
A member of the Left Front argues that as more confrontations between the powers that be and the population occur and as the authorities have to make concessions to the population as part of their strategy to retain power, the number of those in the power structures who will decide to shift allegiance will only grow (nakanune.ru/articles/115230/).
He cites as an example of how an elite crackdown may lead to divisions within the siloviki the situation which emerged in Ukraine when another journalist Georgy Gongadze was killed. Many in the force structures might have been prepared to stay with regime had it adopted a hard line, but when it vacillated, they left. Something similar is happening now in Russia.
According to Razvozzhayev, the situation is much as it was during Perestroika. The siloviki simply aren’t certain whether those in power now will be in power in a year or two, and consequently, they are thinking not only about defending their immediate positions but also their long-term interests.
That creates problems of the Kremlin now because “our siloviki officers understand that something not right is going on and that it will be better for them not to commit any excessive number of crimes but rather decide on whose side they will be.” That is what happens whenever there are questions about how tough those in power are and who will be in power in the future.
The speed with which the Kremlin backed down on the Golunov case and then the speed with which it used force against demonstrators in support of the journalist show just how divided the Russian elite is and suggest that divisions among it follow lines other than those many think, including within the siloviki.
Some suggest, the activist says, that the Kremlin may even have launched the Golunov case to test the loyalty of the siloviki, to find out who could be counted on to obey it regardless of what it ordered. If that is so, what is learned cannot be encouraging to those in power now. And as more such cases arise, divisions among the siloviki will become even more obvious.