Staunton, January 24 – One of the very first acts of incoming Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has been to give police and other siloviki, including the Russian Guard, in the two capitals and their surrounding blasts additional pay because they are so often required to work to guard or work against demonstrators.
His directive has been posted on the government’s website (government.ru/docs/38839/) and is discussed by the independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta (novayagazeta.ru/news/2020/01/24/158540-mishustin-vvel-nadbavku-k-zarplate-dlya-silovikov-za-rabotu-na-aktsiyah-protesta).
Three things about this order make it noteworthy: First, the bonuses the prime minister calls for are potentially quite large for officers in these units. According to the government document, they may be paid up to 100 percent additional on top of their salaries if they are forced to work with demonstrators.
Second, he has limited this to the two capitals, a reflection of the Kremlin’s far greater concern about protests there than elsewhere but something that is sure to anger some siloviki in the regions who are also faced with extra work for dealing with protests. That could create tensions within the ranks.
And third and most important, by issuing this decree so early, Mishustin is eliminating any possibility that he will have any kind of honeymoon with the opposition or more broadly with Russians who are increasingly unhappy with what the Putin regime has been saying and doing.