Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Relying on Force Alone Means Kremlin May Win Battles but Will Lose the War, Gallyamov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 17 – The Kremlin has sufficient forces at its disposal to win battles against the opposition; but its increasing reliance on force alone will mean these victories are Pyrrhic, Abbas Gallyamov says. They may keep those in power in charge for a time but such use of force will alienate ever more people and cause the regime to lose the war.

            Not only do the siloviki make mistakes that politicians never would, using repression when it isn’t necessary, but their ability to extract ever more money and support from the regime undermines the authorities in the eyes of the population, according to the former Putin speechwriter who now writes regular commentaries (

            “The natural result of the reliance of the regime no crude force is the growth of the influence of the siloviki and a shift in the balance of forces within the apparatus to their side,” Gallyamov says. “As a result, the people in epaulettes cease to take into consideration the opinion of the civilian wing” of power, undermining the authorities as such. 

            The Kremlin leadership should have learned from the past but clearly hasn’t, he continues. “In 1989,” Gallyamov recounts, “feeling that his regime was losing power, the general secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party Károly Grósz  thought about introducing martial law.” 

In his memoirs, Grósz’s advisor for international issues recalls that the Hungarian leader discussed this idea with Polish General Wojciech Jaruzelski who had done just that almost ten years earlier.   The Pole advised against it: “Yes, we did this and won the battle,” he said, “but as a result, we lost the war.” 

“By using mass force,” the Moscow analyst says, “the authorities have been able to intimidate the protesting Muscovites. But this victory is Pyrrhic. It only has accelerated the process of de-legitimization because the idea of power based only on fear puts off not only loyalists but the majority of the members of the regime itself.”

And Gallyamov concludes: “the sense that the powers that be hold power not by right is beginning now like a cancer to eat away at the consciousness of the ruling class. Soon it will finally lose the ability for any action except force and then it will lose this because one must feed the siloviki” and there won’t be any money for that.

For the moment, however, the powers that be have enough money to keep paying the force structures: they’ve even announced that they are sharply increasing the amount of money they have allocated too them (

But how long they can continue to do so remains very much an open question.

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