Spring 2017

The Russian Siloviki & Political Change

Brian D. Taylor

The siloviki – Russian security and military personnel – are a key part of Team Putin. They are not, however, a coherent group, and there are important organizational and factional cleavages among the siloviki. Compared with some security and military forces around the world, Russian military and security forces generally lack the attributes that would make them a proactive and cohesive actor in bringing about fundamental political change in Russia. In the face of potential revolutionary change, most Russian military and security bodies do not have the cohesion or the will to defend the regime with significant violence. Russian siloviki are a conservative force supportive of the status quo. Future efforts by the siloviki to maintain the stability of the existing political order are most likely to be reactive, divided, and behind the scenes.

BRIAN D. TAYLOR is Professor of Political Science in the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. He is the author of State Building in Putin's Russia: Policing and Coercion after Communism (2011) and Politics and the Russian Army: Civil-Military Relations, 1689 – 2000 (2003).

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