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Presidential Succession in Russia: Political Cycles and Intra-Elite Conflicts

In: Russian Politics
Authors:
Ilja Viktorov Research Fellow, Department of Economic History and International Relations, Stockholm University Stockholm Sweden
Centre for Baltic and East European Studies, Södertörn University Huddinge Sweden

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https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3557-1298
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Olga Kryshtanovskaya Professor, Department of Sociology, Russian State University for the Humanities Moscow Russian Federation

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Abstract

This article examines the issue of Putin’s presidential successor from a historical perspective of long-term political cycles. Contemporary Russia still shows considerable similarities to the polities, characteristic of old agrarian empires in Asia. Based on the thesis on the origins of the monocentric political system in Russia, our article analyses how the transition of presidential power takes place in Russia, who might be the next president of Russia and whether we will see a new ‘time of troubles’, or smuta, after Putin’s departure. A generational change in Putin’s elite cohort will require a specific candidate to ensure a successful transition as a long-term solution. This will involve balancing clashing interests between key informal power networks. In all likelihood, a repeat of a political cycle of empires will happen in Russia again, resulting in a continued consolidation of its monocentric political system.

1 Introduction

The future presidential succession after Vladimir Putin has been the greatest political concern for Russian decision-makers. It very much defines the country’s political agenda. The issue of succession has, surprisingly, not been properly addressed in academic research, although some foreign policy think tanks have produced a few accounts.1 We intend to discuss the issue of a future presidential successor from the perspective of the internal logic of Russian power and the long-term institutional constraints that define this logic. This approach allows us to frame the general conditions under which succession will take place, even though it is currently impossible to predict who will be the future presidential successor or to say exactly when this event will happen.

What distinguishes Russia’s political system from polities in electoral democracies of advanced capitalist economies (ACE s)? And how will this difference affect the presidential succession in Russia? These questions can be addressed within a broader context. Historically, Russia’s political system can be characterized as monocentric, with one center for strategic political leadership.2 For Russia, where big business and politics are closely intertwined, this applies equally to the distribution of key economic resources. This center, whether it is officially institutionalized or heavily influenced by informal decision-making, can be found at the top of the bureaucratic hierarchy. It comprises elite power networks surrounding the formal political leadership.3 Political regimes of different ideological hues come and go, yet the same pattern of monocentric power re-emerges under different labels as more or less institutionalized. In this respect, Russia has had more in common with the polities characteristic of centralized Asian empires, such as China and Iran. By empire, we mean here a polity that controls a large geographical space with a diverse multi-ethnic population through a complex bureaucratic and military apparatus, and with geopolitical aspirations that go beyond the borders of this polity.4 The ability of the imperial power holders to create free resources with supportive institutions and actors, including a central bureaucracy, not tied to traditional elites such as the aristocracy and local institutions has been identified as the main characteristic of the political systems of empires.5 While the concentration of power within such centralized empires seems strong, in reality these polities can be extremely fragile during times of distress. The ability to meet the challenges imposed by external and internal shocks depends on the ability of a particular ruling elite network to control and mobilize the bureaucratic and military apparatus to handle crises. In the Russian case, neither the elites of the Romanov Empire nor those at the top of the Communist Party’s nomenklatura could prevent their societies from suffering a systemic collapse. It remains to be seen if Putin’s ruling elites can avoid the same fate.

This monocentric pattern for the organization of political power has been more common throughout human history than its alternative, a genuine polycentric system. For Western electoral democracies in ACE s, elite groups reached an intra-elite compromise regarding the use of violence, the division of political power and access to economic rents, leading to the institutionalization of the rule of law and the emergence of impersonal rules. These achievements were accomplished, first and foremost, to benefit the ruling elites, which, at first, consisted of a limited number of powerful families, either initially representing the traditional nobility or the new bourgeoisie. Eventually they had a positive impact for the whole of society since the ability and willingness of leading elite groups to follow common impersonal rules were gradually extended to include the rest of society. An independent judiciary, the separation of powers, consolidated public control over law enforcement agencies including the military and the police, the institutionalization of property rights, and the professionalization of the bureaucracy are just some of the benefits brought about by this historic transformation. This, expressed in rather simple terms, is how we interpret the main thesis of the transition from a limited-access order (LAO) to an open-access order (OAO).6 Contemporary Russia has not seen such a transition and lacks a corresponding intra-elite compromise. The elite consensus that helped Vladimir Putin become president in 2000 was situational and rested on the conflicting interests of a number of elite power networks with diverse political and economic preferences.7 This ‘social contract’ with the former elites inherited from Yeltsin’s presidency and, increasingly, between new power networks represented by the St Petersburg siloviki8 created severe constraints. It hindered a developmental agenda during the challenges of the 2008-09 global crisis, the economic stagnation after 2012, and the ensuing geopolitical tensions.9 The relative stability of the Russian sistema has depended more on Putin’s personal qualities as a leader and an intra-elite mediator rather than on his ability to create a self-sustainable system of impersonal rules comparable to those that emerged under the OAO regime.10

These considerations have been addressed by previous research. Of relevance to the aim of this article is how the presidential succession is conditioned by the monocentric Russian power structure. The role played by informal power networks, sometimes defined in previous research as ‘clans’ or ‘cliques’, can be critical in such societies. The power network that takes control over the strategic center of political decision-making may impose its will on which candidate will succeed the supreme power. The leader’s personality and individual preferences may in turn be crucial to the future composition of the elites and, consequently, to the stability and the subsequent evolution of the Russian sistema. Since the main networks consisting of Putin’s siloviki are now entitled to exert a decisive influence over the choice of successor, we will primarily focus on this factor.

The next section of this article puts the origins of Russia’s monocentric power structure in a broader historical context and discusses why there might be a new smuta (‘time of troubles’) in Russia. The third section provides a brief insight into the role played in Russian polity by informal power networks that we define as oboimas. This section also problematizes the risks posed by Putin’s aging ruling cohort of associates. The fourth section is devoted to the issue of choosing a new presidential successor. The final section concludes by looking at how the transition of presidential power will affect the future evolution of the Russian monocentric system of power.

2 The Origins of Russia’s Monocentric Political System and Its Cycles. Might a New Smuta Occur?

Russia’s modernization in the twentieth century meant that its technological catch up with the West was not accompanied by a political transition to an OAO. This outcome is not unique to Russia. In fact, it is quite common in newly industrialized countries in Asia and Latin America. However, this discrepancy presents political scientists and mainstream economists with a puzzle in terms of how to describe Russia’s current political reality.11 The reason is that the latter, including the composition of elites and the way elite power networks influence political developments, is different from seemingly modern formal institutions of electoral democracy introduced in these countries. According to the dominant view among specialists in the field who share the same international (mainly Anglo-Saxon) political discourse, Russia, like the majority of post-communist societies, should undergo a systemic transformation into an electoral democracy and market economy, yet, in reality, this has failed to materialize. Russian ‘authoritarian’ elites, usually personified by Vladimir Putin, are blamed for this outcome; they represent an ‘evil force’ that, in pursuit of power and personal greed, impedes more progressive reforms. Multiple definitions have been coined to classify the political and economic system of today’s Russia, including patrimonial/neopatrimonial state,12 dual state,13 militocracy14 and chekistocracy,15 or simply a hybrid regime.16 The limitation of such approaches to understanding post-Communist societies has been pointed out in a recent study on the classification of political regimes in the region.17

Instead of adding to such definitions, we suggest acknowledging the fact that the monocentric system of power in Russia retains fundamental features of its pre-modernity, even though its ruling elites and the source of their legitimation are no longer of a traditional origin. It should also be recognized that the historical legacy of a monocentric political system hampers contemporary Russia’s ability to cope with the complex challenges of globalization. An economic breakthrough is just as hard to achieve for Russian leaders today as it was ten or thirty years ago.18 Yet, and despite Russia’s relative technological and economic backwardness, the logic of the power of a traditional Asian empire enables the ruling elite networks to consolidate their political power and prevent the disintegration of the country. Moreover, it brings about a certain degree of limited developmental capacity.19 As Eisenstadt explains, this is because such empires can mobilize resources for a limited number of large projects, projects that would have been beyond the capability of Russia’s traditional elites, or today’s kleptocratic post-communist elite, without the corrective of power of imperial monocentrism. For example, Putin’s Russia has recently been able to rearm its military, a political priority of Russia’s leadership. It has also brought off some large infrastructural projects, such as the redevelopment of Moscow and Sochi, and the launch of a Russian COVID-19 vaccine. Traditional empires coped with such narrow tasks in the past, and the same mechanism of limited resource consolidation under monocentrism works in contemporary Russia.

One crucial aspect of the pre-modern polity that Russia inherited from its imperial past should be considered closely. A pattern of a systemic political break-up has repeated itself in Russia since early-modern times. After the long reign of rulers such as Ivan the Terrible, Nicholas II or Leonid Brezhnev, Russia entered times of troubles (smuta) due to a failed power succession. The death or abdication of a long-reigning ruler was followed by short-lived political leaders, including Boris Godunov and Vasily Shuisky in the early seventeenth century, Georgy L’vov and Alexander Kerensky in 1917, Yury Andropov, Konstantin Chernenko and Mikhail Gorbachev between 1982 and 91. Irrespective of their talents and qualities, these successors were incapable of securing political leadership and failed to prevent systemic collapse. A large rotation of ruling elites took place each time, resulting in the prosecution, imprisonment or even liquidation of some key decision-makers from the former elites. The increased risk of civil wars due to the succession of power is not unique to Russia but instead is characteristic of other LAO political systems. In pre-modern hereditary monarchies, such risks decreased substantially with the introduction of the principle of primogeniture, i.e., when the oldest son inherited the throne.20 This solution is generally not an option in modern polities with a republican rule, even though, in practice, such cases can be found in some autocracies on the periphery.21

‘Great’ smutas should be distinguished from minor smutas. The latter primarily affected political elites but did not entail the immediate systemic collapse of the Russian polity. For a minor smuta to become a great one, it would require the death or resignation of a strong ruler to coincide with deeper societal tensions, including economic problems and social unrest, or with external challenges, such as participation in large-scale conflicts. In those instances, competing elite groups could appeal to and manipulate broad societal forces as a part of their struggle for supreme power or political survival. The death or deposition of a long-reigning ruler is therefore a prerequisite for a systemic collapse, yet under favorable circumstances, the end of such a reign can also only lead to temporary tensions within the upper echelons of the elites.

To gain a greater insight into why the Russian sistema displays a high level of instability during political upheavals, referred to by contemporary observers as a smuta, we need to look closely at the contradictions distinctive for the monocentric political system of empires. Such societies tend to develop in cycles. An initial consolidation of political power creates the precondition for the concentration of economic and military resources, population growth and a rise in income, the territorial expansion of the empire and the culmination of the cycle. This is followed, however, by a subsequent decline, growing intra-elite conflicts and finally the ultimate collapse of the imperial political regime, with its coercive apparatus, disposable economic resources and ideological base.22 In pre-modern empires with slow technological innovation, such cycles are closely interconnected to long agrarian cycles conditioned by the limited availability of arable land, the main source for rent extraction by ruling elites and the central imperial power. During the ascending phase of the cycle, the supply of arable land is commensurable with the available peasantry to cultivate this land, which paves the way for expansion and economic growth as both the agrarian population and the amount of arable land gradually increase. This enables imperial elites to use rent and tax extraction for large political and economic projects and for patronizing culture and arts. When the peak of the cycle has passed, an ever-increasing agrarian overpopulation, elite overproduction, a fiscal crisis of the state, and, consequently, a peasant famine and a diversion of the food supply to large urban centers create a broad social base for uprisings. The bureaucratic apparatus becomes increasingly ineffective and corrupt. During the descending phase of the cycle, this destabilizing factor is used by some traditional elites (‘opposition’), represented by members of the extended imperial family or military lords, or emerging counter-elites, against the central imperial power. Following a domestic civil war and a population decline, a seemingly stable empire collapses falling victim to an external invader. At best, a new political and agrarian cycle under a new dynasty and ideological legitimation begin, with a weakened bureaucratic apparatus and a loss of territory and population as the starting conditions of this re-emergence.23 Imperial China with its dynastic cycles provides a striking illustration of such a pattern of development.24

Russia was a relative newcomer to this world of traditional empires with dynastic cycles.25 The cyclicality of Russia’s long-term political development, with periods of political disintegration and spectacular resurgences that followed, has been recurrently theorized by Russian philosophers and historians.26 The agrarian crisis of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, as well as the agrarian overpopulation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, have been identified by Russian historians as two key factors that triggered, respectively, the (original) Smuta that followed the death of Ivan the Terrible and the Russian revolution. However, very few of these historians juxtaposed those structural factors with a long-term background of agrarian cycles or compared the collapses of the Russian statehood with Chinese dynastic crises. In some cases, the territorial expansion of traditional empires delayed a systemic crisis and prolonged a dynastic cycle, as illustrated by imperial Russia. The colonization of the arable Black Earth region in southern Russia, which started under Catherine the Great, helped the Romanov Empire to avoid a systemic collapse in the late eighteenth century ‘Age of Revolutions’. A ‘great’ smuta, with a new peak of agrarian overpopulation that would put an end to the Romanov Empire, was postponed by a century.27

The industrialization and urbanization that came about due to the increased pace of technological innovation created conditions for accelerated economic growth in terms of per capita income (‘the modern revolution’). This removed the main precondition for the agrarian overpopulation as a contributing factor in the emergence of ‘times of trouble’ and ended the vicious circle of centuries-long agrarian and political cycles of traditional empires. At the same time, upheavals in technology and the productive sphere do not necessarily entail a transformation of the monocentric political system, even where there is the elimination of traditional imperial elites. The transition to an OAO, with a new elite consensus and the gradual creation of a genuine polycentric system of power under an electoral democracy, has been difficult to achieve outside non-Western societies and Japan.28 Technological and economic modernization did not automatically bring about political modernization. Instead of an enduring elite compromise that formed part of the transition to an OAO, non-Western societies often saw the removal of previous elites and the re-emergence of what is popularly labelled today in Russia as a ‘power vertical’ under different ideological umbrellas and composed of new ruling elites. From that perspective, Russia under Putin’s rule, even though it can by no means be characterized as a traditional dynastic empire, remains trapped in the logic of a monocentric political system. The agrarian empire has disappeared, but the mechanism of consolidation and centralization of the vast Eurasian geographical space, with the center in Moscow, has survived.

We suggest that the issue of presidential power succession in Russia should consider this grand history context. The room for maneuver for Putin and his siloviki associates is limited by the logic of a monocentric power system, and this should shape discussion of what kind of person will probably succeed Putin. The alternative is to fall into the trap of Kremlinology and use rumors to discuss ‘palace intrigues’ among factions in the Putinite elite.29 Reliable information on a particular person chosen as Putin’s successor is simply non-existent. A better understanding of how informal power networks interact within the Russian polity with its strong pre-modern path dependence can, however, help us to analyze transition of the presidential power in Russia.

3 Oboimas within the Russian Network Directorate and the Generational Change in Putin’s Ageing Elite

The presence of informal power networks within the upper echelons of the Soviet and post-Soviet power systems has been addressed by previous research.30 The role they have played has been ambivalent. During the 1990s market reforms, such networks both contributed to the break-up of the governance of the Russian state and the institutional disarray. At the same time, they mobilized resources for the institutional reforms that paved the way for Russia’s emerging capitalism. As Alena Ledeneva concludes, while the presence of such networks can be observed even in societies with more-developed institutions – what we define as OAO countries with polycentric power systems – there is a crucial difference between such societies and Russia.31 In ACE s, networks’ activities are constrained by checks and balances, thus enabling the network members to make profit but without destroying the framework of formal institutions and legal procedures. In LAO societies such as Russia, these networks themselves can transform, adjust, or even eliminate the formal rules and institutions that politicians, bureaucrats, and the business world are supposed to abide by. In a monocentric political system, a supreme leader’s survival depends on their ability to master and control informal power networks that penetrate political and bureaucratic institutions and that compete for power and resources.

For Russia, we define such networks as oboimas, which literally means ‘cartridge magazines’, a definition used by the Soviet nomenklatura to describe informal power groups.32 Each oboima consists of hierarchical relations between patrons and clients, commonly under the strategic leadership of a supreme patron. The latter occupies, or occupied in the past, an important position in the state apparatus or large business entity, although the ability of such a patron to exercise informal power does not necessarily depend on the official status. Their ability to advocate for the appointment of their clients to key positions inside the state apparatus and to mobilize subordinates within unofficial networks for various political tasks is more crucial. Russian journalists and popular writers usually describe this as the ‘informal bureaucratic weight’ (apparatnyi ves) of a particular official. Recruitment to networks is primarily based on a client’s personal commitment to a patron, while the former’s professional qualities and ideological beliefs are of secondary importance. However, religious and ethnic factors may at times play a role in strengthening the cohesiveness of a specific network. Like in the final years of the Soviet nomenklatura or in the traditional Romanov Empire, kinship and intermarriages within or between members of power networks are common in Putin’s Russia.33 At the same time, unlike in specific ethnic Russian republics in the North Caucasus and southern Siberia, the factors of kinship and pre-modern clan relationships have not gained the upper hand in the central Moscow-based Russian polity.34 Under the post-Soviet conditions of the merger between politics and the economy, private business conglomerates and large state corporations can also serve as sources of assets for particular power networks, and are used as channels to access mainly state-originated resources.

Since 2000, Putin’s entrusted people, including, but not exclusively made up of, his siloviki, populate the power pyramid. By the latter, we mean a hierarchy of officials who spanned the top of the state bureaucracy and law enforcement agencies, but also including the most important state-controlled corporations and development banks. The appointments of regional governors after 2000 have been increasingly influenced by Moscow-based power networks, which install their clients to control regions, especially resource-rich ones. Each member of Putin’s old guard controls his own oboima, an informal network of clients whose members, in turn, control their own clients positioned throughout the state apparatus. Figure 1 visually represents the workings of this system. The light-colored figures indicate Putin’s old guard who still occupy official positions at the top of the Russian bureaucracy, as they did in previous decades. Each person represents an associate of Putin and who controls their own informal power network as a patron. Figure 1 also shows the trend in recent years, namely a gradual shift in the old guard’s positions due to the natural ageing of Putin’s associates, some of whom have moved outside the power pyramid and exchanged political power for property to retain their status after retiring from public office. Here the roots of a future ‘hereditary aristocracy’, Russia’s emergent upper class, are forming. These small figures are dark-colored. However, being outside the pyramid does not automatically mean that these people have lost influence. Some remain patrons of influential informal power networks, thus keeping control over their clients in the ladder (Figure 2).

Figure 1
Figure 1

Power pyramid and the transformation of Putin’s team

Citation: Russian Politics 8, 1 (2023) ; 10.30965/24518921-00801005

Figure 2
Figure 2

The oboimas of Putin’s associates inside the power pyramid

Citation: Russian Politics 8, 1 (2023) ; 10.30965/24518921-00801005

One important difference between Putin’s era and Yeltsin’s presidency is the degree of institutionalization of elite interaction at the very top of the hierarchy. In the 1990s, this interaction around a sick and increasingly incapable Boris Yeltsin became highly personalized, with his former bodyguards, associates from his native Sverdlovsk, and subsequently his daughter and affiliated businessmen playing a leading role as the main channels for access to the president. Under Putin, this ‘Latin Americanization’ of Russian politics characteristic of a textbook patrimonial state paved the way for a more formalized approach. Putin’s adherence to principles of legalism, i.e., following the letter but not necessarily the spirit of the law, has been frequently discussed.35 The growing importance of the Security Council (SC), which gradually undertook the role played by the old Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, has therefore reflected Putin’s personal preferences for political decision-making. This has also manifested itself in the increased role played by the siloviki in Russian polity since the SC is per se the highest formal political decision-making body in the sphere of national security and foreign policy, and not regarding the economy, ideology or social issues. What is the most important is that the SC has been a concentration of patrons of the most powerful elite groups. Within the Russian system, characterized by a high degree of formalized bureaucratization, this directly reflects the securitization of politics in Russia. An analysis of the rotation of SC membership – those who remained permanent members and those who remained non-permanent members of the Council – enables us to draw some conclusions regarding the actual importance of a certain person within the informal power hierarchy that emerged around Putin. Some SC members are automatically appointed simply by dint of their positions within the formal state hierarchy. They usually leave the SC as soon as they leave their formal high-ranking positions. However, some important exclusions have been observed in recent years. Boris Gryzlov was the first such case. A close associate of Putin, between 2003 and 2011, he was elected the Chairman of the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, making him the person with the fourth-highest position in the formal state hierarchy. After leaving his position, he disappeared largely from the media and public spotlight. However, between 2011 and 2016, contrary to the usual praxis, Gryzlov continued to sit as a permanent SC member. We are now well aware of his active involvement during the Crimean events in 2014 and the subsequent unfolding of the conflict in Ukraine. Sergei Ivanov, another close associate of Putin, represents a similar case. After his resignation as the head of the Presidential Administration of Russia in 2016, he remains a permanent member of the SC. This means that both Gryzlov and Ivanov became invisible only to outside observers while, in reality, remaining important players.

In the case of the SC, we see the same trend as shown in Figure 1. In 2018, only five of eleven permanent members of the SC were representatives of Putin’s old guard. Such formal status as being a member of the SC or occupying another high-ranking official position also matters for Putin’s close associates. For example, Igor Sechin, CEO of the state-owned oil company Rosneft, may have direct access to Putin as his devoted subordinate. He may also exercise some, and, at times, very important influence in politics and business. Yet he is not a member of the SC. Nor do private businessmen like Gennadii Timchenko, Boris Rotenberg and Boris Koval’chuk, now highly publicized targets of anti-Putin media outlets, occupy this official status. They may be, or were, Putin’s entrusted personal friends, but the lack of a high-ranking official status limits their influence since it restricts the relative impact of the informal power networks they have created and patronized.

Figure 2 visualizes the influential network patrons who have already have left their official positions but can still control their clients, who remain inside the hierarchical power pyramid. This mirrors the trend that became evident during Putin’s third presidency, namely a gradual change in the elites due to the ageing of Putin’s old guard, whom he brought to the power in 2000. Although Putin never proclaimed this rotation officially, its actual outcome bears witness that there is a conscious strategy to achieve this purpose. Table 1 and Figure 3 show that by 2022 the age cohort of people born in the 1960s has become the dominant one in the federal top elite, while generations born in the 1970s and 1980s together have outnumbered the cohort of Putin’s generation born in the 1950s. It is not difficult to understand why such a rotation has taken place. Today, Putin has been in power for 23 years (if we count his four years as prime minister between 2008 and 2012). The average age of the old guard will be 74 years in 2024 if Putin steps down as a president. In a monocentric political system, the ageing of the top elite members is dangerous since they can die very quickly one by one due to the natural deterioration of their health or mental condition, with negative consequences for the family members of these leaders. Putin and his associates are familiar with the catastrophic fates suffered by Stalin’s and Brezhnev’s leader cohorts when previous lengthy reigns ended.

Table 1
Table 1

Age cohort of the federal elite in 2022, by state institution and number of people

Citation: Russian Politics 8, 1 (2023) ; 10.30965/24518921-00801005

Sources: Data collected by the authors and Ivan Lavrov
Figure 3
Figure 3

Age cohort of the federal elite in 2022 (number of people)

Citation: Russian Politics 8, 1 (2023) ; 10.30965/24518921-00801005

Sources: Data collected by the authors and Ivan Lavrov

Most of Putin’s associates either have received sinecures (Boris Gryzlov, Sergei Ivanov, Andrei Bel’yaninov, Viktor Cherkesov, Vladimir Kozhin) or were shunted off to state corporations or banks (Igor Sechin, German Gref, Sergei Chemezov). Very few have retired (Vladimir Yakunin, Yevgenii Murov) or were pushed to the periphery of the political process (Georgii Poltavchenko, Rashid Nurgaliev, Viktor Ivanov). Some have retained their key positions and status (Nikolai Patrushev, Dmitry Medvedev, Sergei Naryshkin, Alexander Bortnikov, Alexei Kudrin, Dmitry Kozak). Unlike Gorbachev and Yeltsin, Putin has been reluctant to fire his subordinates without providing carrots in exchange for retained loyalty. He does not stop to befriend his old guard but instead carefully puts his members aside one by one. Meanwhile, as Figure 2 illustrates, removing a patron of a powerful oboima and putting them outside the formal hierarchy jeopardizes the career prospects of the members of their network. As a rule, clients of an oboima can only be promoted if their patron advances or at least remains in power. While these clients want to continue to climb the ladder and make career progress, the entire oboima’s prospects may deteriorate if its patron stops being a real heavyweight influencer. This means that a generational shift is not confined to how colleagues in Putin’s old guard relate to each other. It is also a struggle between the main oboimas inside the state apparatus over influence and control over resources. The issue of the transition of supreme presidential power from Putin to a younger person exacerbates these risks in terms of the stability of the networks in Russia.

4 Who Is Next after Mr. Putin? Choosing a New Presidential Successor

The appointment of a presidential successor with vast formal powers can potentially result in a zero-sum game outcome for leading informal power networks. Choosing a ‘wrong’ successor may have fatal consequences for patrons and their oboimas, which will lose this game. A fierce intra-elite conflict may threaten the entire stability of the Russian polity and potentially lead to the break-up of the Russian Federation in its current political formation and within its current geographical borders. The oboimas would obviously prefer to minimize such risks.

The first risk minimization is that a successor should be a weak player recruited from a relatively weak elite network. Such a president can distance himself from the most powerful oboimas and function as an arbiter in future intra-elite conflicts over political power and the distribution of resources. In other words, he should perform a similar function to Putin during his early years as president. To avoid having the majority of the oboimas against him, such a candidate needs the networks’ patrons to accept him. Otherwise, the latter can mobilize resources for destructive purposes, including supporting counter-elites and the opposition, blackmailing members of competing networks and arresting junior members of these networks, which would discredit and weaken their patrons. A similar war between the siloviki took place in 2007-08, albeit on a relatively small scale, when the first successor to Putin was to be selected.36 It was no accidental that Putin finally opted for Dmitry Medvedev, who, having distanced himself from the major siloviki networks and demonstrated a weak ability to create his own cohesive team, in combination with the trust that Putin had in him, turned out to be a suitable temporary successor. Even so, Putin’s return to the presidency in 2012 was far from unproblematic, since an alternative elite network had started to coalesce around Medvedev.

Second, the siloviki continue to constitute the core of the network directorate around Putin. Table 2 and Figure 4 show that this concentration is particularly high in the key state institutions crucial to the upper echelons of the elites in Russia, the Presidential Administration and the Government. Between 2019 and 2022, their share of the strategic administrative entity, the Presidential Administration, increased from 55 to 62.9 per cent. This means that a successor should be on good personal terms with the siloviki and the leaders of their main oboimas. For good reason, he should probably have a certain background in, or experience from, law enforcement agencies. Without an acceptable degree of trust from the siloviki and sharing at least the basic beliefs of their corporative ethos, such a successor has very little prospect of securing the support of the core of the Russian elite. The ethos of the post-Soviet siloviki includes a number of key principles and values inherited from the Soviet past and cultivated as part of their education and training, such as military discipline, unity of command, the primacy of collective action over individual initiative, mutual assistance, the sense of military brotherhood, and the ideology of patriotism, through which Russia is viewed as a great power. Most of these qualities are characteristic of authoritarian environments such as military organizations and contradict the democratic principles of governance and administration. However, compared to the Soviet past, this ethos underwent a considerable transformation during the 1990s and now includes acceptance of the market economy and Western living standards. This is because Putin’s siloviki have tasted the fruits of personal wealth and, at least for the upper echelons, the sense of global embeddedness. To a certain degree, they were accepted into wealthy political, business and aristocratic circles in the West. Ascetic values are no longer an integral part of this stratum.37 There are strong reasons to conclude that Putin and his associates are seriously intending to ensure a gradual transition of the presidential power, the outcome of which would endure for the next decades. For this to succeed, they need to have great trust in a selected successor. This means that the future president cannot be recruited from the power networks of so-called system liberals, who represent bureaucratic technocrats or the business community, i.e. someone not fostered in the military ethos of the siloviki.

Table 2
Table 2

Share of siloviki in the top Russian elite in 2019 and 2022 (numbers and percentages)

Citation: Russian Politics 8, 1 (2023) ; 10.30965/24518921-00801005

Sources: Data collected by the authors and Ivan Lavrov
Figure 4
Figure 4

The siloviki in the top Russian elite in 2019 and 2022 (percentages)

Citation: Russian Politics 8, 1 (2023) ; 10.30965/24518921-00801005

Sources: Data collected by the authors and Ivan Lavrov

Third, the candidate’s capabilities as an administrator, an elite player and a loyal team member will be tested multiple times by moving him between different positions within the official power pyramid. This happened to Putin in the 1990s and later, in the 2000s, to Medvedev. It is highly probable that several prospective candidates have already been subjected to such testing in the late 2010s. These moves can include positions such as deputy minister or governor at the beginning of the career, and later as minister, deputy prime minister or a position within the Presidential Administration. There should not be any compromising material (kompromat), real or fabricated, on the future candidate. It is highly probable that the future president’s personal data has already been corrected, with harmful information on ‘wrong’ relatives, educational achievements, and employment, dubious contacts or a worrying health condition being deleted from archives and databases. This was the case for Putin and Medvedev, and before them, for Soviet supreme leaders (Yuri Andropov’s half-invented biography, for example). This is another factor that makes it undesirable to reveal a successor too early.

Fourth, because Vladimir Putin will decide his future successor, the current president’s personal qualities will also play an important role in risk minimization. Unlike Yeltsin, Putin will not entrust his life and his family’s future to his successor alone. Neither will having people in key positions around a new president provide sufficient guarantees for Putin, although this will certainly be done, as the Yeltsin Family network did to Putin during the first years of his presidency. Informal mechanisms of control over Putin’s successor will be supported by formalized constraints. The recent amendments to the Russian constitution in 2020 introduced a number of legal guarantees for former presidents, including lifelong membership of the Federation Council – the Russian parliament’s upper chamber – and legal immunity.38 These moves indicate that Putin has prepared his departure from the presidency. However, such guarantees will not be enough for Putin. After his presidency, he may wish to continue occupying a number of key formal positions in order to create a system of checks and balances. This would constrain the future presidential successor from pursuing an independent policy at the expense of Putin and the network directorate of his ‘old guard’. So far, this solution has not been implemented through constitutional amendments, except for the introduction in the Constitution of the State Council, previously a quasi-constitutional, quasi-parliamentary body that has been running alongside the official parliament, the Federal Assembly, for 20 years. Putin can principally become its chair after stepping down as president.

If we take this consideration of risk minimization for elite networks, for the siloviki oboimas in particular, as our starting point, we can logically arrive at some conclusions about what kind of person will be selected as Putin’s successor. First, it should be a man who was born in the 1970s. By 2024, even people of Medvedev’s generation born in the 1960s will be too old to solve the already-discussed task of carrying out a generational rotation of Russian elites. Opting for someone younger is necessary for the long-term horizon of planning. Someone born in the 1980s will not be able to assume this position because the 1980s elite cohort has not acquired experience yet. Second, this person should be an ethnic Russian with a Russian surname. The latter is not exactly the same as just being a Russian. Representing the largest nationality is an important precondition since, under current conditions, the majority of the population will not welcome a non-Russian as supreme leader. After 2014, a person with a Ukrainian surname cannot be considered for the presidency, even if this person might be an ethnic Russian. Third, this person should be recruited from the ruling elite and be able to demonstrate that they are, or present themselves as, a universal politician with experience in holding a variety of positions inside the power pyramid. Fourth, this candidate should appeal to the population, possess good communication skills, and be persuasive. Although the Russian presidential election is a façade, ruling elites cannot propose any old candidate just because they find a certain person suitable for their particular purposes. It was no coincidence that Anatoly Chubais, Boris Nemtsov and Nikolay Aksenenko were not suggested as Yeltsin’s successor. The communication between a supreme leader and the population must work, as it did in the case of Putin.

The list of prospective candidates who would satisfy these criteria is relatively short. One possible successor is Gleb Nikitin, governor of the Nizhniy Novgorod region. Born in 1977 in St Petersburg, Nikitin was in the 1990s Dmitry Medvedev’s doctoral law student (aspirant in Russian). In the 2000s, the rise of Medvedev boosted Nikitin’s career. In the 2010s, alongside his official positions within the state hierarchy, Nikitin sat on about twenty-five boards of the largest Russian companies, an indicator of a particular bureaucrat’s future career advancement prospects. Other possible candidates include Denis Manturov, born in 1969 and minister of industry and trade, and Alexey Vorob’ev, born in 1970 and governor of the Moscow region. However, both have already received negative media publicity, which is no coincidence. Aleksey Dyumin, born in 1972 and governor of Tula, also meets the criteria for a future successor. He had a professional background in the Russian security services and worked in Putin’s presidential security service in the 2000s.39 Igor Babushkin, born in 1970 and governor of Astrakhan, and former governor of Yaroslavl Dmitry Mironov, born in 1968 and presidential aide, both represent the siloviki faction of the Russian elite. At the same time, which particular person will be the next president is less important. A successor will be appointed an arbiter between the system’s main oboimas, and the room for him to act independently will be restricted. A formalized and, more importantly, informal system of checks and balances distributed between the key oboimas that control the real power centers will limit his ability to pursue an independent policy.

Besides the oboimas with roots in the law enforcement agencies, alternative informal power networks will attempt to influence the transition process. The most powerful are the ‘Family’ network that arose around Yeltsin during his second presidency in 1996-99, the so-called system liberals and the Moscow group. The last-mentioned is headed by the mayor Sergei Sobyanin but has deeper links to the late mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s team and is even rooted in the Moscow-based party nomenklatura from the Soviet era. This group controls vast economic assets concentrated in the capital. As for the Family, we can see that this power network has been publicly active in recent years, including an in-depth interview with Valentin Yumashev, Yeltsin’s son-in-law and former head of the Presidential Administration.40 This interview clearly demonstrates the discontent with the balance of power in Russia, with indirect criticism aimed at Putin. Such alternative elite groups will not directly impact the choice of successor. However, their importance can increase during times of trouble because these groups have affiliated oligarchs with business empires and media resources. They also control so-called dormant political structures, which cannot pose a substantial challenge to the siloviki’s ruling power networks but can be activated if a suitable political situation arises during a hypothetical smuta. From a more practical point of view, these alternative elite networks aspire to, at the very minimum, maintain control over their economic assets and political resources.

It is important to distinguish between the ‘owners’ and administrators of the sistema. The owners are members of the ruling elite with a siloviki background, usually having received training at the Dzerzhinsky Higher School of the KGB or at the KGB Red Banner Institute, the so-called ‘Citadel’. As for the administrators, they are part of the top elite’s inner circle and are members of the leading oboimas, but they are not fostered in the same ethos as the owners of the system. The administrators remain in a dependent position within this closed world of elite insiders. In 2008, the choice of an interim presidential successor was between one of the owners of the system, Sergey Ivanov, and one of its administrators, Dmitry Medvedev, with the final decision favoring the latter. At that particular time, a weaker elite player as president seemed preferable to Putin and the majority of the leading power networks since it would be easier to control the actions of an administrator. There was always a risk that one of the owners of the system would start to play a more independent role. This consideration, in combination with Medvedev’s inability to form a strong oboima to support him at a decisive political moment, turned out to be well-grounded, as events during the winter of discontent in 2011-12 demonstrated. Unlike in 2008, the search for a new president is all about a permanent solution due to the ageing of Putin and his elite cohort. Therefore, one of the owners of the system, and not one of its administrators, will be chosen.

The final question concerns when the transition of presidential power in Russia will happen. The recent amendment to the Russian constitution in 2020 allowed Putin two additional presidential terms. Theoretically, Putin can stay in power until 2036. However, this amendment of ‘zeroing’ his previous and current presidential terms does not necessarily mean that Putin will opt for this alternative. Some of his associates from the old guard would certainly prefer him to stay in power because the arrival of a new younger successor will inevitably spell the decline of the influence of these old networks. Yet the natural process of the physical ageing of Putin and his team contradicts this solution. As we noted in the previous section, Putin has taken the generational rotation of the elite seriously. The zeroing of Putin’s presidential terms means, rather, that he is no longer prevented from running for president again. It will also buy him time to solve the transition issue. He does not want, nor need, to be viewed as a ‘lame duck’ by the entire Russian polity or his near associates. This has provided Putin with the opportunity to continue to pursue a more independent policy vis-à-vis other oboimas. This will also allow him to introduce a successor at a suitable political moment when most of the other players do not anticipate this. The actual timing of the presidential succession will not necessarily coincide with the next presidential elections scheduled for spring 2024.

5 Conclusion

The Russian polity can be described metaphorically as a pyramid, a children’s toy with colorful rings stacked on a peg in the middle of a base. These bright rings are the first thing that an outside observer would notice. The powerful oligarchs of the 1990s, Western-friendly ‘liberal’ intellectuals protected and financed by these oligarchs, the Family power network, the Moscow group, ‘orthodox bankers’ with media resources, influential ethnic clans from republics such as Tatarstan or Chechnya; all these power networks can be compared to the rings of this pyramid. These forces are visible and seemingly more open to public scrutiny, either because of self-promotion or media publicity. In reality, the pyramid’s base and peg are much more important than the visible rings. Today, the siloviki constitute the pyramid’s peg, thus putting them in control over the political process, the coercive apparatus and the distribution of the main economic and financial resources of nascent Russian state capitalism. This peg brings about coherence and order, thus guaranteeing the survival of the monocentric Russian polity as it evolved historically. The 1990s were not the decade of a true polycentric society but can be viewed as a transitional decade. A previous monocentric political system dominated by the Communist Party was transformed into another one when the law enforcement agencies took control over the state apparatus, therefore becoming a new peg in the system. As a recent study demonstrates, the siloviki faction of the Russian elite has remarkably been the main channel for the influx of new elite members without ties to the old Soviet nomenklatura. In fact, the majority of the Russian elite outside this faction have had much closer family ties with the Soviet nomenklatura.41 Therefore, the pyramid’s peg, where the name of the future president will be decided, has been more flexible and adaptable than its rings. Overall, the Russian polity under Putin can be seen as a special kind of LAO society where the supreme power monopoly is reserved for a specific corporation representing the law enforcement agencies.

The ongoing military conflict in Ukraine has posed new challenges for the presidential succession in Russia and, broadly speaking, for the survival of the Russian power pyramid. However, the new (geo)political reality may have an impact on the name of the future president, but it does not alter the principles of how he will be selected. First, the increased external pressure and intra-elite conflicts mean that the future controller of the system will unlikely be recruited from its administrators. He must be a silovik who is genuinely committed to the main values of the corporation. Appointing simply a good-looking, well-spoken civilian administrator, like in the case of Medvedev in 2008, will not be sufficient to protect the interests of the chekist corporation.

Second, the next president will likely be a more hard-style person compared to Putin. This is not what the sistema actually needs because a tightly controlling leadership risks undermining the cohesiveness and viability of the power pyramid. Its lack of flexibility is not an advantage but shows its weakness. A breakup of the elite consensus may lead, in this case, to a great smuta and the collapse of Russian statehood as we know it today, resulting in the elimination of the siloviki corporation as the system’s main peg.

Third, contradictions between the security services (viewed in the siloviki’s professional jargon as the ‘head’ of the corporation) and the Ministry of Defense (the ‘arms’ of the corporation) have been visible now in the public space. Both sides have flung accusations, including how the military operation was planned, why Russian intelligence performed poorly and why the Russian military has been much weaker and ineffective compared to what domestic and foreign observers envisioned before the conflict. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (the Russian police representing the ‘feet’ of the corporation) remains silent and invisible in this conflict. As part of our empirical work, we have calculated the share of the siloviki in the top Russian elite demonstrated in Table 1. We saw a clear tendency towards the increased presence of police representatives.42 As a law enforcement agency, the police belong to the power pyramid’s peg, but they play a subordinate role compared to the security services and defense forces. At the same time, they are not equally compromised by the failures and misfortunes of the military campaign in Ukraine. Therefore, a representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs as a future president should not be ruled out; this scenario is new compared to the period before February 2022.

To summarize, the military conflict in Ukraine has eliminated the already minimal prospect of a gradual transformation of the Russian LAO into an OAO polity. Moreover, it has made the Russian polity a prisoner of its historical past, namely a LAO regime characteristic of old agrarian Asian empires. A tactical win for some of Russia’s political elites would be a strategic loss for the country, even in the event of a successful transfer of presidential power. Monocentric political systems characteristic of centralized Asian empires tend to be fragile during times of distress, when a minor smuta can quickly become a major smuta, leading to a collapse of statehood. A cyclical development of the country, alongside the power matrix of Asian empires, will be reproduced in the future, even though it will no longer follow the old pattern of crises experienced by traditional agrarian empires.

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Yuko Adachi, Gonzalo Pozo-Martin, Simon Moores, Neil Robinson and anonymous reviewers for useful comments on earlier versions of the paper. We are also grateful to participants of research seminar at the Department of Economic History and International Relations, Stockholm University, for valuable feedback. We also thank Ivan Lavrov for assisting on data collection.

Funding

Ilja Viktorov’s work was supported by the Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius Foundation, Tore Browalds Foundation, Sweden (P19-0241); Åke Wiberg Foundation, Sweden (H18-0094); Helge Ax:son Johnson Foundation, Sweden; Magnus Bergvall Foundation, Sweden (2018-02641).

1

Herman Pirchner, Jr., Post Putin: Succession, Stability, and Russia’s Future (Lanham, MA: Rowman & Littlefield, 2019); John Francis Tefft, Understanding the Factors That Will Impact the Succession to Vladimir Putin as Russian President (Santa Monica: RAND, 2020).

2

Alexei Zudin pioneered the concept of the monocentric political system regarding the transformation of Russia during the early years of Putin’s presidency. Within the context of the 1990s, he focused more on relations between the federal-level power holders and regional elites. See Alexei Zudin, Rezhim Vladimira Putina: kontury novoi politicheskoi sistemy (Moscow: Carnegie Center, 2002).

3

Olga Kryshtanovskaya and Stephen White, “The Formation of Russia’s Network Directorate”, in Vadim Kononenko and Arkady Moshes, eds. Russia as a Network State: What Works in Russia When State Institutions Do Not? (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011): 19-38.

4

Our definition of empire corresponds largely to the definition of great land empires discussed in Dominic Lieven, “Russian Empires”, in Sally N. Cummings and Raymond Hinnebusch, eds. Sovereignty After Empire: Comparing the Middle East and Central Asia, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012): 25-43.

5

Shmuel N. Eisenstadt, The Political Systems of Empires (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2nd ed., 2017).

6

Douglass C. North, John Joseph Wallis and Barry R. Weingast, Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

7

Kirill Petrov, Andrei Kazantsev, Evgeny Minchenko and Ivan Loshkariov, “Putin’s Rise to Power: Russian Roulette or Elite Pact?,” Russian Politics 7, no. 3 (2022): 422-449.

8

Siloviki, literally “people of power”, denotes decision-makers in politics and business with a background in the security services, the military or other law enforcement agencies.

9

Andrei Melville, “A Neoconservative Consensus in Russia?,” Russian Politics and Law 55, no. 4-5 (2017): 315-335; Andrei Yakovlev, “Composition of the Ruling Elite, Incentives for Productive Usage of Rents, and Prospects for Russia’s Limited Access Order”, Post-Soviet Affairs 37, no. 5 (2021): 417-434.

10

Alena Ledeneva, Can Russia Modernise? Sistema, Power Networks and Informal Governance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013); Nikolai Petrov, “The Elite: New Wine into Old Bottles”, Russian Politics and Law 55, no. 2 (2017): 115-132.

11

Markku Kivinen and Mikhail Maslovskiy, “Russian Modernization: A New Paradigm,” in Markku Kivinen and Brendan Humphreys (eds.), Russian Modernization: A New Paradigm (London: Routledge, 2021): 6-9.

12

Pavel Skigin, “Neopatrimonialism: The Russian Regime through a Weberian Lens”, in Mykhailo Minakov and Alexander Etkind, eds., Ideology after Union. Political Doctrines, Discourses, and Debates in Post-Soviet Societies (Stuttgart: Ibidem, 2020): 93-110.

13

Richard Sakwa, “The Dual State in Russia,” Post-Soviet Affairs 26, no. 3 (2010): 185-206.

14

Olga Kryshtanovskaya and Stephen White, “Putin’s Militocracy”, Post-Soviet Affairs 19, no. 4 (2003): 289-306.

15

Nikolay Petrov, “Putin’s Neo-nomenklatura System and Its Evolution,” in Balint Magyar, ed., Stubborn Structures: Reconceptualizing Post-Communist Regimes (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2019): 197.

16

Nikolay Petrov, Maria Lipman and Henry E. Hale, “Three Dilemmas of Hybrid Regime Governance: Russia from Putin to Putin,” Post-Soviet Affairs 30, no. 1 (2014): 1-26.

17

Balint Magyar and Balint Madlovics, The Anatomy of Post-Communist Regimes: A Conceptual Framework (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2020).

18

Yakovlev, “Composition of the Ruling Elite”.

19

Pami Aalto and Anna Lowry, “Modernization of the Russian Economy: Fossil Fuels, Diversification, and the Shackles of International Political Economy,” in Kivinen and Humphreys, (eds.), Russian Modernization: 30-70.

20

See Andrej Kokkonen and Anders Sundell, “Leader Succession and Civil War,” Comparative Political Studies 53, no. 3-4 (2020): 434-468.

21

Jason Brownlee, “Hereditary Succession in Modern Autocracies,” World Politics 59, no. 4 (2007): 595-628.

22

See Peter Turchin, Historical Dynamics: Why States Rise and Fall (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018); Eugene N. Anderson, The East Asian World-System: Climate and Dynastic Change (Cham: Springer, 2019).

23

David Christian, Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History (Berkeley, Ca: University of California Press, 2004): 304-332; Peter Turchin and Sergey A. Nefedov, Secular Cycles (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009): 303-314.

24

Anderson, The East Asian World-System.

25

Turchin and Nefedov, Secular Cycles: 241-302.

26

For a review of this literature, see Kåre Johan Mjør, “A Morphology of Russia? The Russian Civilisational Turn and Its Cyclical Idea of History,” in Arto S. Mustajoki, ed., Philosophical and Cultural Interpretations of Russian Modernization (London: Routledge, 2016): 56-70.

27

Turchin and Nefedov, Secular Cycles: 299-300; David Moon, The Plough That Broke the Steppes: Agriculture and Environment on Russia’s Grasslands, 1700-1914 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

28

Douglass C. North, John Joseph Wallis, Steven B. Webb and Barry R. Weingast (eds.), In the Shadow of Violence: Politics, Economics, and the Problems of Development (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

29

Among the more insightful examples of such an approach are Peter Reddaway, Russia’s Domestic Security Wars: Putin’s Use of Divide and Rule against His Hardline Allies (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), and Catherine Belton, Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West (London: William Collins, 2020).

30

Mikhail Afanasiev, Klientelizm i rossiiskaya gosudarstvennost’ (Moscow: Moscow Public Science Foundation, 2000); Kryshtanovskaya and White, “The Formation of Russia’s Network Directorate”; Ilja Viktorov, “The State, Informal Networks, and Financial Market Regulation in Post-Soviet Russia, 1990-2008”, Soviet and Post-Soviet Review 42, no. 1 (2015): 5-38.

31

Ledeneva, Can Russia Modernise? 242-243.

32

Mikhail Voselensky, Nomenklatura: Gospodstvuyushchii klass Sovetskogo Soyuza (Moscow: Sovetskaya Rossiya with MP – Oktyabr’, 1991): 126.

33

Fabian Burkhardt, Kinship Networks and Russia’s Bureaucratic Elites, (Berlin: SWP, 2018, mimeo).

34

Ledeneva, Can Russia Modernize?, 32-34.

35

Håvard Bækken, Law and Power in Russia: Making Sense of Quasi-Legal Practices (London: Routledge, 2019): 4-5.

36

See Reddaway, Russia’s Domestic Security Wars.

37

For more on the ethos of the Russian siloviki, see Olga Kryshtanovskaya, “Rezhim Putina: liberal’naya militokratiya?” Pro et Contra 7, no. 4 (2002): 158-180.

38

Fabian Burkhardt, “Institutionalizing Personalism: The Russian Presidency after Constitutional Changes,” Russian Politics 6, no. 1 (2021): 50-70.

39

For a rare interview (one not connected to his duties as governor of Tula oblast’) with Dyumin by a Kremlin-affiliated journalist, see Aleksey Dyumin, interview by Andrei Kolesnikov, “V kontse kontsov, zhizn’ ne raz kruto menyalas”, Kommersant, 9 February (2016), https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/2911780 (accessed 28 October 2022).

40

Valentin Yumashev, interview by Nikolai Uskov, “Dlya naroda svoboda ne stala tsennost’yu”, Forbes, 21 April (2021), https://www.forbes.ru/obshchestvo/427603-dlya-naroda-svoboda-ne-stala-cennostyu-valentin-yumashev-o-svoey-rabote-s-elcinym (accessed 28 October 2022).

41

Maria Snegovaya and Kirill Petrov, “Long Soviet Shadows: The Nomenklatura Ties of Putin Elites,” Post-Soviet Affairs 38, no. 4 (2022): 329-348.

42

We do not show the exact share of the police representatives in Table 1 but base our statement on the observation made during our data collection.

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