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In the Russian political lexicon, a silovik (Russian: силови́к, IPA: [sʲɪlɐˈvʲik]; plural: siloviki, Russian: силовики́, IPA: [sʲɪləvʲɪˈkʲi], lit. force men) is a politician who came into politics from the security, military, or similar services, often the officers of the former KGB, GRU, FSB, SVR, FSO, the Federal Drug Control Service, or other armed services who came into power. A similar term is "securocrat" (law enforcement and intelligence officer).


The term siloviki ('siloviks'), literally translated as "people of force" or "strongmen" (from Russian сила, "force"), originated with the phrase "institutions of force" (Russian: силовые структуры), which appeared in the early Boris Yeltsin era (early 1990s) to denote the military-style uniformed services, including the military proper, the police (Ministry of Internal Affairs), national security (FSB) organizations, and some other structures.[1]


Siloviki wish to encourage a view that they might be seen in Russia as being generally non-ideological, with a pragmatic law-and-order focus and Russian national interests at heart. They are generally well-educated and bring past commercial experience to their government posts.[2] It is assumed that siloviki have a natural preference for the reemergence of a strong Russian state.[2]

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.[2]

Persons and positions[edit]

Senior siloviki under Putin's presidency included Sergei Ivanov, Viktor Ivanov, and Sergey Shoygu, 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.[2]

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.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ For example: "Russian Politics and Law, Volumes 29-30". Russian Politics and Law. 29–30: 90. 1990. Retrieved 2014-07-23. [...] the supreme leader, who firmly relies on the structures of force (the army, state security, the Ministry of Internal Affairs) [...]
  2. ^ a b c d Willerton, John (2005). "Putin and the Hegemonic Presidency". In White, Gitelman; Sakwa (eds.). Developments in Russian Politics. 6. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-3522-1.
  3. ^ 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[edit]

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