The holders of political power in Russia today are the siloviki (sometimes called “securocrats” by political scientists). These are the people who work for, or who used to work for, the silovye ministerstva-literally “the ministries of force”-charged with wielding coercion and violence in the name of the state. Since Vladimir Putin’s rise to power at the end of the 1990s, siloviki have spread to posts throughout all the branches of power in Russia. The current regime is a “hard” authoritarian regime shading toward a “soft” dictatorship. For ordinary Russian citizens, this means the presence of some tangible level of personal freedoms, but a nearly complete absence of any substantive political rights, a seriously reduced scope for the exercise of civil liberties, and significant limits to one’s personal security.
Reading Russia: The Siloviki in Charge
Issue Date April 2009
Page Numbers 69-72