Siloviki is a Russian term for those who have backgrounds and employment in security services, the military, and police under the former USSR. More unofficially, the word can refer specifically to a group of high-ranked politicians around Putin, his security cabal, and the heads of the Russian power ministries — many of whom were formerly intelligence officers or military personnel who worked closely with the young KGB agent years before his rise to power.
Many of the early siloviki were disloyal to Boris Yeltsin in the years after the fall of the Soviet Union. They eventually switched sides, but developed a reputation for corruption in needing to win financial favors from the newly minted oligarchs — the “new rich” who had sprung out of thin oil during the too rapid transition from Communism to capitalism in the early 1990s.
The Rise of Putin
As the newly appointed successor to Yeltsin, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin began to rehabilitate the reputations of the siloviki, leveraging them to put down a series of Chechen rebellions in the late 90s and into the early 2000s as he assumed the office of the Presidency.
Putin’s top siloviki:
- Sergey Ivanov
- Nikolay Patrushev
- Igor Sechin