Are Siloviki Still Undemocratic? Elite Support for Political Pluralism during Putin’s Third Presidential Term

In: Russian Politics
Sharon Werning Rivera and David W. Rivera Hamilton College,;

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Will Vladimir Putin’s penchant for staffing the state with siloviki undermine the prospects for democratization after he leaves office? The answer to this question hinges on whether Russian military and security officers currently possess a less liberal worldview than do civilian elites, yet little to no research has examined this question in close to a decade. In an effort to fill this gap in existing knowledge, this article investigates the orientations of influential Russians toward several core components of liberal democracy on the basis of a survey conducted in 2016. We find that attitudinal differences between siloviki and civilians persist into this decade. As was the case in both the 1990s and 2000s, elites with professional backgrounds in the force structures were less supportive of political pluralism and individual rights than were those with purely civilian resumés. In addition, active-duty officers were even less liberal than either their retired former colleagues or lifelong civilians. Finally, unlike the situation that apparently prevailed at the very end of Putin’s second presidential term, conventional military officers now espouse nearly identical levels of support for political pluralism as do officers entrusted with internal security.

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