Tuesday, February 23, 2021

‘All Power in Russia in Hands of Siloviki Because Putin Trusts Them’ But They Aren’t United, ‘General SVR’ Telegram Channel Editor Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 22 – The editor of the General SVR telegram channel, speaking on condition of anonymity to New Times editor Yevgeniya Albats, and now living abroad, says that “all power in Russia today is in the hands of the siloviki” because Vladimir Putin trusts them more than any other group.”

            His testimony, originally posted on the Ekho Moskvy portal but then taken down without explanation, is now available on the New Times site which provides a 10,000-word transcript of his words and those of political analyst Valery Solovey, who confirms the editor was a lieutenant general in the SVR, and of Albats about this new reality (newtimes.ru/articles/detail/201418).

            Putin makes all the key decisions in Russia, the SVR editor says. He gets information and recommendations from many, but he decides and gives orders. “For him, showing strength is a manifestation of power,” and the best way to show who is boss is to act in a harsh manner to anyone who opposes him.

            Authoritarian regimes like his collapse when there are divisions among the top elites, the editor continues, and say that he can “guarantee that Putin’s regime will also fall as a result of a division in the elites and quite quickly.” That is because many among the siloviki don’t agree with his policies and won’t come to his defense if he dies or is seen to be losing power.

            There is only “a single structure which will defend Putin to the end – the Russian Guard, Neither in the FSB, nor in the SVR, nor in the GRU, nor in the army is there such global loyalty. There aren’t any in them who are ready to die or sit in jail for the Supreme Commander” except a portion of the Russian Guard.

            That doesn’t mean that the Putin system can’t continue at least for a time without Putin, he suggests. He “has created a sufficiently monolithic system; it can exist even without him. It is a very big mistake when people say that without Putin, the system will collapse or that it will be possible to somehow seize power.”

            This is “a major mistake” in the thinking of the present-day opposition, the editor continues. As is the notion that it would be possible “to seize power on the basis of honest elections.” Putin’s system for all its divisions is too well insulated for that to happen.

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