Staunton, July 20 – Vladimir Putin trusts the siloviki more than he does his own Presidential Administration because the force structures have the ability to suppress the population while the PA can do little more than give him advice and engage in such actions as the falsification of elections, Dmitry Gudkov says.
Gudkov, an opposition Russian politician who fled to Ukraine last month to escape likely arrest, says that the Presidential Administration is not an independent force as it was earlier but at the same time the Russian siloviki are far less enthusiastic about the repressive policies of the Kremlin leader than he appears to believe (realtribune.ru/putin-bolshe-doveryaet-silovikam-chem-administracii-prezidenta).
On the basis of his own contacts, Gudkov continues, he knows that many among the Russian silovik were “shocked” by his persecution given that he is a “moderate opposition” figure and given that they now how the persecution of even the moderates is likely to end, with their own ranks suffering as well.
The émigré political activist is convinced that “for changes in Russia, two conditions are needed: the present of protest attitudes in the population and the splitting of the elites. If there is no split, then even millions of people in the streets will not be able to do anything” as the events in Belarus show.
But his own words suggest that the basis for splits in the elites exists and that they may emerge if the Kremlin leadership continues to act in ways that members of the siloviki view as “incorrect.” In that event, some of them may be willing to oppose the man on top, and that could change the entire political equation.