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After a period of relative political liberalization under president Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s security services have again started to play a central role in Russian politics with Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency in 2012. In this issue of Russian Politics, we analyze three different aspects of this return of the siloviki: the way they think and see the world, how the relationship between governors and siloviki affects economic development at the regional level, and how the strengthening of the siloviki since 2012 compares to the strengthening of the Chinese internal security services, which took place during the same time. We identify a new assertiveness of Russia’s siloviki, as well as a centralization of power around Vladimir Putin through the dismissal of other influential heavyweights within Russia’s security services, and speculate what this might mean for Russia’s short- to mid-term future.

In: Russian Politics

Control over the security services is a key ingredient of political survival in authoritarian regimes. This is particularly true during periods of leadership succession and high political uncertainty. In this paper, we compare the strategy used by Vladimir Putin towards the siloviki – the Russian security services – with that employed by Xi Jinping towards the Chinese security services. We find that in both countries, the security services have been significantly strengthened in recent years, while at the same time extensive anti-corruption campaigns have been used to eliminate key officials within the security structures. We argue that both developments can be seen as elements of a strategy to increase control over the public, while eliminating potential competition from regime insiders, in view of a deteriorating economic situation, and the constitutional (or quasi-constitutional) term limits faced by Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in 2024 and 2022, respectively.

In: Russian Politics