The Tough Guys…in Russia
Okay, I’m going to introduce a word that may be new to you. It was certainly new to me. Specifically, it is Siloviki, or in Russian, силовики́. It is kind of hard to translate. I gather that it means, sort of, Security Forces. Thus, a silovik is a member of any of the law enforcement organizations of the Russian Federation — everything from the former KGB (now the FSB) to, in certain situations, a local cop on the beat. (1)
Except…it doesn’t quite mean that. Literally, it means “a person of force,” or, even, just a “tough guy.” Politically, meanwhile, it refers to the people who entered the Russian system via the military or intelligence services. As an ex-KGB agent, Putin himself falls into this category. And, many of the people around him, including some of his closest associates, are Siloviki, such as Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Security Council of Russia, and Alexander Bortnikov, currently head of the FSB.(2)
Why am I telling you all this? Well, apparently, at least from what I’m reading on the web and hearing from a few friends, there is a chance that the Siloviki may have a significant role to play in the future. Specifically, say some of the experts, if there ever really is a coup against Putin, it might be the Siloviki who will lead it.(3)
And that makes sense, really. They have the means, the motive, and the opportunity to do such a thing. They are armed and well-organized. They have access to Putin on a regular basis. They understand the use of violence. They would know how to stage a coup, and win it.
Or…maybe a Putsch would be unnecessary. Maybe they could change the course of history with a single decisive act. After all, they are in a perfect position to mix a little polonium in Putin’s tea, or a sprinkle some Novichok in his underwear. No kidding. That’s how they tried to assassinate Alexei Navalny.(4)
And, well, frankly… it’s hard to say it would be a bad thing. A world without Putin in it might be a better place. In fact, if anything, the tragedy is that it didn’t happen about six months ago. Think of all the Ukrainians, and Russians, who would be alive today if only some patriotic silovik had invested in a 9 mm hollow point and a suppressor.
Of course, if it ever does happen, we still have to worry a bit. We’d have a new regime, but it might be just as anti-democratic as the one before it. After all, if a former KGB-agent could turn into a tyrant, there is no reason why another couldn’t as well.
Since we are fantasizing, let’s add another variable. Let’s say that there are BIG Siloviki and little Siloviki. That is, there are the powerful Siloviki around Putin himself, like Patrushev and Bortnikov, but there are also lots and lots of others…at the bottom and the middle of the hierarchy, the lieutenants and NCOs and privates of the internal security army, as it were.
And let’s say that the coup is carried out, and ultimately won, by them. And maybe, maybe, they would be a bit more eager to get a share of this world’s delights, for themselves and their families, than waging war against Russia’s logical markets and friends in Europe.
Might make for a very different outcome, don’t you think?
Let’s all cross our fingers and wish real hard.
Until next time,
Onward and upward.
1.“Silovik,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silovik
2.“Putin’s security men: the elite group who ‘fuel his anxieties’’, Andrew Roth, The Guardian, Feb 4, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/04/putin-security-elite-siloviki-russia
3. “Putin doesn’t fear a coup by oligarchs. But he should fear his fellow spies.,” by Steven L. Hall, March 10, 2022, The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2022/03/10/putin-coup-russia-siloviki/
4. “Poisoning of Alexei Navalny,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poisoning_of_Alexei_Navalny
Copyright©2022 Michael Jay Tucker