Wednesday, February 25, 2004

# Posted 1:35 PM by Patrick Belton  

ANALYZING TRENDS IN RUSSIA: Better than any other piece I've come across lately, this article from yesterday's FT casts insight into the trends taking place in the Kremlin behind the day-to-day political shuffle which often devours the headlines. And one of the most significant of these trends is the emergence in positions of crucial authority of the siloviki (lit: "men of power"), current and former officials in the intelligence, security, and military services. To wit,
According to a study by Ms Kryshtanovskaya, the proportion of siloviki in the uppermost echelons of Kremlin power has increased from 4.8 per cent under Mr Gorbachev to 58.3 per cent under Mr Putin. More than half of Mr Putin's 24-member informal "politburo" are siloviki. In the Kremlin one in three officials has a military or security services background, says Ms Kryshtanovskaya.

The growing presence of the siloviki has been even more startling regionally. Four out of seven presidential representatives in the regions are affiliated with the military or security services. Each of these "super-governors" has a staff of 1,500, 70 per cent of whom have a military or KGB background.
On the one hand, under the Soviet tyranny, the KGB was one of the Soviet Union's few meritocratic and functioning institutions, and its people represented many of the nation's best and brightest. On the other hand, their statist ideology leaves pauce room for democratic niceties, and to the extent they wield power, they may provide Russia with order, but little justice.
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