Monday, May 30, 2022

‘Silovikization’ of Russian Politics Intensifying, Kolesnik Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 14 – No non-Russian language has an equivalent word for silovik, even though what that term refers to – people in the force structures – exists in many countries, but the silovikization of Russian life has gone further than anywhere else and so it is appropriate that this Russian term remains Russian, Natalya Kolesnik says.

            The senior scholar at the Moscow Institute of Sociology says that Russia does not show any signs of what researchers refer to as a military autocracy, “but one of the factors which has promoted the growth of the silovikization in society is the active penetration of representatives of the force structures in civil institutions” (

            The employees of the force structures, the siloviki, currently form 3.5 percent of the total number of Russians employed in all forms of activities, “approximately four times greater than the number of siloviki relative to total population in developed countries,” the sociologist continues.

            But what is most important is not their number but their penetration of institutions not normally viewed as part of the force structures. Since Putin came to power, they form about 25 percent of all the political elite of Russia; and as much as 58 percent of the entourage of the president. Both figures, Kolesnik says, are continuing to rise.

            One of the segments of the elite where their numbers are increasing especially rapidly is the corps of governors. The dominance of the siloviki among governors in the North Caucasus has long been the case, but this group is now expanding its presence among governors across the entire country.

            To some extent, Kolesnik suggests, Russia is just a more extreme case of what is  happening in many places. She cites the late Juan Linz as concluding that in recent decades the military has expanded its role to domestic affairs and now focuses on “internal wars” and not just foreign ones.

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