The Russian Power Ministries and Security Services

Authored by: Bettina Renz

Routledge Handbook of Russian Politics and Society

Print publication date:  October  2011
Online publication date:  March  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415576277
eBook ISBN: 9780203804490
Adobe ISBN: 9781136641022

10.4324/9780203804490.ch18

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Abstract

The role and influence of the Russian power ministries and security services has become a widely discussed issue in Russian politics, especially since Vladimir Putin’s rise to political prominence. The political role of the siloviki in particular has attracted the attention of analysts and academics both in Russia and abroad. The term “siloviki” is traditionally used in Russian jargon to describe employees of the Russian military, law-enforcement and security services. In Russia these are often referred to collectively as silovye struktury or silovye vedomstva – shortened to “siloviki” as a descriptor for their personnel. Literally silovye struktury translates into “power-wielding” or “force-wielding” structures, and the terms most commonly used to describe these in English-language analyses are the power ministries, force structures or the security apparatus (Bacon 2000; Renz 2005, 2010; Taylor 2007). With Putin’s rise to power, the meaning of the term “siloviki” became more specific and started to be used to denote politically or economically active individuals with a career background in one of the Russian power ministries. As discussed in more detail below, concerns were raised that growing numbers of politicians with a common background in these institutions and their shared “military-style traditions” would push Russia in a more authoritarian policy direction (Kryshtanovskaya and White 2003; Reddaway et al. 2004). However, assessing the influence of the siloviki on contemporary Russian politics and society is not straightforward. Before their role can be discussed in detail, a clear understanding and definition of the Russian power ministries and security services and a look at the individual components that these include is essential.

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