Silovik (Russian: силови́к; IPA: [sʲɪlɐˈvʲik]; plural: siloviki, Russian: силовики́; IPA: [sʲɪləvʲɪˈkʲi]) is a Russian word for politicians from the security or military services, often the officers of the former KGB, GRU, FSB, SVR the Federal Narcotics Control Service and military or other security services who came into power. It can also refer to security-service personnel from any country or nationality.
The term, which can be exactly translated as "people of force" (from си́ла, "force"), derives from the term "structures of force", which appeared in the earlier Boris Yeltsin era (early 1990s) to denote the military-style uniformed services, including military proper, police (Ministry of Interior), national security (KGB/FSB) and some other structures. These "structures of force" formed a de facto higher level inner cabinet under Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin. Sometimes the term is translated as "strongman", which is not so correct. The drawback of this translation is that it obscures the particular career background of these persons, as described above.
Siloviki hope, that a common view in Russia is that they were generally non-ideological, were not corrupt, have a pragmatic law and order focus and have Russian national interests at heart. They pretend to be generally well-educated and bring past commercial experience to their government posts. Many assume that the siloviki have a natural preference for the reemergence of a strong Russian state and may be less sensitive towards certain aspects of the democratic system, which in turn makes many people consider them as the pro-Chinese faction.
The siloviki do not form a cohesive group. They do not have a single leader and there is no common, articulated "silovik agenda". However, according to John P. Willerton, these security-intelligence officials brought the work ethic and skills - that Putin apparently favoured - to the administration.
Persons and positions 
Senior siloviki under Putin's presidency included Sergei Ivanov, Viktor Ivanov and Igor Sechin, who had close working relationships with Putin and held key positions in Putin's governments. Willerton points out, however, that it is difficult to assess if their common security-intelligence background translates into common political preferences.
Following the 2011 Russian protests, Russian president Dmitri Medvedev, having made promises of political reform, nevertheless appointed several siloviki to prominent positions in the government: Sergei Ivanov to chief of staff of the presidential administration; Dmitry Rogozin to deputy prime minister; and Vyacheslav Volodin to deputy chief of staff.
- Willerton, John (2005). "Putin and the Hegemonic Presidency". In White, Gitelman, Sakwa. Developments in Russian Politics 6. Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-3522-0.
- Andrew E. Kramer (December 28, 2011). "Political Promotions in Russia Appear to Belie President’s Promise of Reform". The New York Times. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
Further reading 
- "The making of a neo-KGB state". The Economist (The Economist Newspaper Limited). 2007-08-25. Retrieved 2007-08-24.
- William Safire on the Siloviki
- The Siloviki in Putin's Russia: Who They Are and What They Want, Washington Quarterly, Winter 2007
- The Exile on Russia's brewing "Silovik war"
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