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Reflections on Policing in Post-Communist Europe

Siloviki in Russian Regions: New Dogs, Old Tricks1

Nikolay Petrov


This paper offers an analysis of  elites changes in the spatial organisation of the power ministries as they were affected by the federal reform. The  main hypothesis is that Federal okrug administrations were introduced to break the ties binding the regional and federal levels of siloviki and at the same time create bridgehead from which to establish supervision over all the levels.

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Why “siloviki” ?

1Unifying term ‘siloviki’ (power men), which means usually officers of numerous power and law enforcement agencies, both active and former, got wide circulation under ‘silovik’ Vladimir Putin. Not only is it due to the fact that being much less noticeable earlier they demonstrate now rapid expansion both in terms of persons2 and relations, but also to the way the whole management machine is organized. Another reason is that they do appear as a united corporation in spite of all internal conflicts and contradictions; a corporation that opposes itself to the ‘civilian’ section of management. Their corporate norms and rules of behavior were spread everywhere and dominate now in the whole Russian state apparatus. This phenomenon can be called ‘FSB-ization’ by the name of Federal Security Service (FSB), the major KGB successor3.

2The present paper is aimed to give the reader a general understanding of the phenomenon and provide him with simplest descriptive schemes in genre of political entomology4.

Siloviki are coming

3All three prime-ministers appointed by weak and pretty unpopular president Eltsin during a year after 1998 financial crises – Evgeny Primakov, Sergey Stepashin, and Vladimir Putin – had the experience of managing secret services: Foreign Intelligence in case of the first one and FSB in two other cases. It’s possible thus to speak about siloviki’s casting for the second or even the first most important office in Russia.

4Named director of the FSB in 1998, Putin had in the past held the very lowly rank of KGB lieutenant colonel. As a result he was regarded by many of the organization’s leading generals as an upstart and a political appointee. During a year in charge of the FSB Putin managed to get his own people into the administration of the service but it would be most premature to speak of his total control over that body. In the army, MVD, tax police and other power ministries the former secretary of the Security Council was still weaker, following his abrupt promotion to the very heights of the Russian political Olympus5.

5Once president, Putin naturally wanted to turn the security structures into a support for his rule. It was not enough to simply change ministers. In the best of cases it would take them a very long time to establish their own control over such enormous bureaucratic pyramids as, say Ministry of Interior with 2 million employees. By creating an intermediate administrative level between the central authorities and those in the regions it would be possible to break the ties binding the regional and federal levels of siloviki and, at the same time, create a bridgehead from which to establish supervision over both the one and the other levels. The okrugs thus formed a wedge between the federal hammer and the regional anvil. The new institutions were not burdened with old feuds and would enable work with cadres (selection, practical testing and training) while providing a sharp impetus towards the replenishment of personnel. To a great extent the introduction of the okrugs permitted the reproduction of cadres in its full cycle to be restored (recruitment, training, preparation of reserve cadres) after the nationwide system, formerly exercised by the apparatus of the Communist Party, was destroyed in 1991. Less than a year after the reforms had begun it proved possible to replace the ministers of Defense and of Internal Affairs and begin a “purge of staff headquarters”. Two years later the entire bloc of power ministries could be reformed on the eve of the next elections, thereby completing the transfer of the levers of control over the country’s numerous security structures into the hands of Putin’s close supporters and comrades in arms. There was a sharp increase in the horizontal rotation of the regional chiefs of those structures, thereby ensuring their greater loyalty to the president’s team.

6The okrug police administrations created by Putin's 4 June 2001 decree became powerful bureaucratic players. Their chiefs, holding ranks up to colonel-general, are appointed by presidential decree and report directly to their minister in Moscow6. Each okrug’s regional police chiefs report to them. The okrug chiefs have staffs of up to 150. Their responsibilities include coordinating the work of the MVD within their okrugs, collecting and analyzing information and giving it to the envoys, and combating organized crime. Each okrug chief is the commanding officer for all MVD units in the okrug.

Cadres for Putin’s reforms

7In the federal-security reform, as in any plan for state reorganization, there are two chief elements. On the one hand, there is the structural and functional aspect that is linked to the reorganization of the layers of the system and the links between them. On the other hand, there is the question of cadres. The success of the reforms that have been implemented is now, it would seem, not determined by institutional and functional design but by cadres and their willingness and ability to make a reality of the outlined transformations.

8To analyze the situation with cadres we have taken the three main power ministries of those represented in the regions, FSB, MVD and prosecutors office7. FSB was close to the proponents of the current reforms, continues to function in its accustomed regime and is an almost wholly closed organization. MVD was an alien organization to the reformers, has been zealously reformed and is comparatively open in informational terms. Finally,  even during Eltsin’s reforms the FSB continued to remain to a large extent under the control of the central political authorities8. The regional administrations of the MVD, on the contrary, in many respects came under the supervising control of the regions’ political leaders: during Putin’s recentralising reform, therefore, they became the arena of numerous conflicts that erupted into public rows.

9The reform of the MVD was sharply intensified after the appointment as minister of Boris Gryzlov in April 2001. The leadership in the central apparatus was almost entirely replaced; a single line of command on the territorial principle was established; main departments (GUVD) were created in each of the seven federal okrugs. The renewal of cadres that initially embraced the top ranks of the ministry has also begun at the regional level. Each month the press reports new resignations and appointments of police chiefs at the local level: in 2003 alone 23 heads of regional departments (UVD) were replaced and in 2004, 14 more.

10As already noted, in its spring 2001 amendments to the law concerning the police the Duma deprived regional leaders of the right to approve the appointment of heads of UVD. The upper Federation Council, where the governors then still sat, resisted and did not want, without a fight, to surrender its right of second say in such appointments. Their objections had no real effect and since mid-2001 the new procedure has been in force.

11At a meeting of the Security Council on 31 May 2002 Putin declared that the system of rotation would be restored in order, one, to retain professionals and, two, to “extract” them from the ties and circumstances that build up over years. “Issues of rotation are already being decided in the MVD,” said Gryzlov; “leaders of the territorial organs are being replaced.” Let us see how a renewal of the siloviki has proceeded in the MVD and the FSB, by examining all the available materials.

Table 1: Regional leadership of MVD and FSB in federal okrugs and its renewal (as of 1 January 2005)


N° of leaders*

Replaced since 05.2000

Average time in post (year and month)












2y 8m

2y 8m






4y 2m

3y 4m






3y 9m

1y 7m






5y 2m

3y 9m






1y 3m

3y 10m






4y 4m

2y 7m

Far East





2y 1m

3y 5m






3y 2m

3y 1m

* Number of leaders for whom the date of appointment is known (in parentheses total number in okrug).  

** Number of regions where replacements were made (in parentheses total number of replacements). Since the UVD chief for Ingushetia and Chechnia changed twice, and the local FSB chief in Chechnia, Tuva and the Maritime region also changed twice, the total number of replacements exceeds that of the regions where they took place.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD)

12The first striking impression is the abrupt renewal of the regional leadership of the MVD during Putin’s presidency. In 2001 alone almost every fourth regional police chief was replaced, many times more than the two previous years. The jump in numbers in 2001 is partly explained by the creation of the seven okrug heads of the GUVD. In spite of the large-scale replacements almost two fifths of regional MVD chiefs, as of mid-2003, were pre-Putin appointees9 and these numbered some long-term survivors who had held the post during the Soviet period.

13Two, the career of those appointed in Putin’s levy differed fundamentally from Eltsin-era appointments. The great majority of police chiefs appointed in the 1990s had worked all their lives in their own region but most of the new Putin appointees were transferred from senior posts in other regions. We can thus talk about a transition from a Brezhnev-era model of stagnation to the preceding model of intensive horizontal rotation. Similarity with the latter is further emphasized by the use of a pattern of appointments common within the Communist Party during the Soviet period when people moved “from region to region via Moscow” or “from second or third to first-ranking in one’s own region via Moscow”. It is important to note that the federal ministry in Moscow is far from playing just an auxiliary role as a staging post in these personnel changes: it is not just the place where the apparatus gets acquainted with the candidate for an important post and the candidate gets to know those serving in the ministry. MVD generals and senior officers from the regions may be appointed to leading posts within the ministerial apparatus and several years later again return “to the region”. The present chief (since July 2002) of the St Petersburg and Leningrad Region GUVD, M. Vanichkin, first headed GUBOP and then the Russian national bureau of Interpol; the chief of police in the Voronezh region since September 1997, A. Dementyev, was deputy head of GUBEP and head of GUBOP; V. Shevchenko, the chief NPof the Rostov GUVD since December 2001 was deputy head of GUUR; the Sverdlovsk GUVD chief since October 2001, V. Vorotnikov, was head of the passport and visa department at the MVD; the Kalmyk republic’s chief policeman, since March 2003, is V. Matveyev who was deputy head of the legal department at the MVD.

14Three, it is not proving at all easy to “uproot” the leadership of the MVD’s regional structures. This is especially true in the ethnic republics where it is not just a question of local ties but of ethnicity.10 If the proportion of “locals” to “outsiders” among the regional police chiefs /12/ in predominantly Russian regions was 1:1, in the ethnic republics and districts the proportions were almost 4:1.11 We may add that among the outsiders who were appointed after the federal reform began, half came from “their own” federal okrug. The balance between locals and outsiders has changed substantially since the reform began: now the ratio is 1:1 in the ethnic republics and districts and one local to two foreigners in other regions – moreover a third of the locals, in the latter case, were returning to the region after serving in another area12.

15The statistics of replacements in the okrugs and the average time served as UVD chief is presented in Table 1. A substantial unevenness in the process of renewal may be observed. In the Urals and Northwest okrugs almost all the UVD chiefs have been replaced and their present time in post barely exceeds 12 months. In the Siberian and Volga okrugs only one third of the regions have been affected and the length of service, accordingly, is 4-5 times longer. The latter two okrugs, we cannot help but recall, are those headed by civilian envoys and they contain the maximum number of ethnic regions. Until early 2003 the Central okrug was also among those lagging behind but in 2003 alone five police chiefs were replaced, or every third or fourth.

16We may note that the renewal of the regional corps of police chiefs is aided by the rule that on reaching the age of 55 a police chief is automatically retired13. Only by special decision of the minister can the length of service be increased by a year (and there may only be five such extensions, up to 60). The system of rotation is thus underpinned by a special and external “ejection” mechanism. Such an age limit simultaneously assures the loyalty of police chiefs to the minister, no matter whether they are locals or outsiders: it is he, and not the governor, who decides whether an MVD general may continue to be an acting police chief or not. /13/

The Federal Security Service (FSB)

17The FSB is a structure of a quite different kind that never came under such great influence of the regional governors as the other siloviki. It would be logical to expect that personnel changes as a consequence of a considerable strengthening of the Center would be less. That, however, is not the case. The changes are intensive -- half of the heads of regional FSB departments were appointed under Putin – but the reasons are different than in the case of the MVD. Instead of the replacement of “bad” chiefs, here it is a question of career advancement linked to the appointment of FSB colleagues to the most varied posts: from presidential envoys and Chief Federal Inspectors14 to MVD chiefs (Udmurtia 2002, Chechnia 2000), senators (Tuva 2001-2, Omsk region 2002, Krasnodar region 2003) and even governors (Voronezh and Smolensk regions).

18At the regional level the FSB appears even more renewed than the MVD. Since Putin came to power more than two thirds of regional FSB chiefs have been replaced15. Almost all the present regional FSB chiefs took up their posts no earlier than Eltsin’s second term of office: of the more long-serving incumbents we may note those in the Altai (since 1991), Nizhny Novgorod (since 1992), Kurgan and Tambov regions (since 1993). At the opposite end of the scale are Chechnia and Kalmykia where FSB chiefs change every two years, working “in shifts”.

19The trajectories of career advancement in the FSB differ significantly from those in the MVD, both in the pre-Putin and the present patterns. As a rule, an FSB operative rises to the level of a deputy head of the department in “his own” region. Further promotion in that region to head of department seems more to be an exception than a rule and it makes no difference whether it is an ethnic republic or a predominantly Russian region. Of those presently heading regional FSB departments barely one in five, or one in six, have made that move (typically, all the “old-timers” who have been in their posts for ten years and more made their careers in the same region). The most widespread variant is the sideways promotion when there is a radical change of region in the transition from deputy to regional department head. Frequently this sideways promotion passes through the central FSB apparatus in Moscow16. However, unlike the MVD’ candidates for promotion, the FSB promotees more often serve for a time, working in the inspectors’ department in Moscow, rather than take up important posts there17. It is important to emphasize that in the MVD, where the system of horizontal rotation of leading cadres is being recreated, the scope for such rotation is, as a rule, limited to the federal okrugs: /14/ within the FSB, where the principle of rotation had been preserved before the federal reform, such moves were made around the whole country.

20A pattern of purely horizontal shifts at the level of regional department chiefs is also extremely widespread within the FSB, e.g. from Kalmykia to Vladimir (1998) or Ulyanovsk (1999), Ryazan to Stavropol (2001), Omsk to Krasnoyarsk (2002), and Kamchatka to Krasnodar (2003 via Kyrgyzstan).

21The statistics for turnover in regional FSB chiefs (see Table 1) differs rather from that for the MVD. The average time in post for department chiefs is almost the same for both organisations --  three years after the federal reform began we may note, as a purely symbolic detail, that it equalled the age of that reform! The variation between the okrugs, however, was substantially less for the FSB: from less than two years in the Southern okrug to almost four years in the Volga and Urals okrugs. This may provide evidence of two things. One, the federal reform in the FSB did not, unlike that in the MVD, lead to fundamental changes in the system whereby the corps of regional chiefs was formed and replaced. Two, the difference between predominantly Russian regions and ethnic republics is much less pronounced and the okrugs, correspondingly, are more homogeneous in their composition.

22Deserving particular attention are the regional FSB chiefs who serve in the central regions of the okrugs and head the Councils of FSB agencies (see fn. 3). Only two of them (Volga and Urals okrugs) held their posts under Eltsin. All the rest are Putin promotees, including Moscow and Novosibirsk where regional FSB chiefs were appointed as the federal reform began and Yekaterinburg where the FSB chief was replaced a couple of months earlier. Petersburg stands out for having twice changed its regional FSB chief during the reform period: the first was squeezed out by the presidential envoy, the second left immediately after a new envoy was appointed. Thus the FSB may only be considered the forerunner of the federal reform in an institutional sense: it is certainly not the case with its cadres, at least at the level of those heading the Councils of FSB agencies.

The federal inspectors

23No less indicative is the choice of cadres to serve in the teams of the envoys and as federal inspectors in the regions. How did the presidential envoys form their administrations18? In each of the three cases where the envoy did not come from Moscow a back-up man from the presidential administration appeared: the former chief of the department for the coordination of presidential representatives Anton Fyodorov was appointed in the Central okrug and his deputies in the Southern and Far-eastern okrugs. The most Moscow-based administrations are those of Kiriyenko (5 Muscovites including himself) and Drachevsky (four including himself), with Poltavchenko in Moscow coming third only (three). The same administrations excluding the last are newly arrived, less indigenous. There were no representatives of the Volga regions among Kiriyenko’s administration leadership19, and both the Siberian and Far-eastern okrug administrations have only one local born member each. Turning to the envoys’ deputies we find businessmen and retired politicians in the case of Kiriyenko, while fellow generals and senior officers serve in the cases of Cherkesov, Kazantsev, and Drachevsky: one can say that at least part of these appointments was inspired by the envoys themselves.

24In the case of chief federal inspectors in the regions who replaced the former presidential representatives20 the role of envoys is less pronounced, except maybe for the Northwestern /15/ and Volga okrugs. Appointments of federal inspectors in general look strong and well prepared. They are very different from the commissar-type presidential representatives appointed in 1991, being a kind of transmission belt for regional political-economic mechanisms. This is clearly shown by their previous jobs, e.g. Komi president’s chief of staff, deputy heads of government of Udmurtia, Mordovia, Saratov region, and the Orenburg regional government chief of staff. Usually the chief inspector is directly and strongly connected to his region. However, there are some exceptions, above all in Siberia. Muscovites were appointed to Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, and the Maritime, Kemerovo, and Krasnoiarsk regions – all troubled regions with authoritarian leaders.

25Many Muscovites were moved to the regions as a result of the reform (they work not only in the okrug administrations, but in General Prosecutor’s offices, MVD etc) and this is an unusual phenomenon. Where departure for the periphery offers questionable career advancement, the move can be explained either by the temporary character of these official journeys or by the mobilization of the bureaucratic apparatus which exercises a kind of military discipline.

26Three important innovations attract one’s attention if the federal inspectors are compared with the former presidential representatives. One, the whole territory of the country is covered without exceptions, including former “troubled” regions (Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Yakutia) where presidential representatives were previously absent. Two, there has been careful consideration of the ethnic factor especially with regard to the most conflictual republics, with the understandable aim of not letting conflict with the central authorities acquire an ethnic dimension. Thus an ethnic Tartar – but from Moscow -- is appointed to Tatarstan, a Bashkir is sent to Bashkortostan, and the same practice is applied to the North Caucasian republics. Yakutia is under an ethnic Russian inspector, but one who speaks the language and has the experience of working as deputy head of the government there.

27The third innovation we may term “federal reform-2” on analogy with the formation of the okrugs. Certain inspectors are responsible for more than one “subject of the federation”, in many cases for two or even three regions. In some instances, it’s a return to the pre-1991 administrative-territorial pattern, with the inspector being responsible for an ethnic autonomous okrug or district as well as the region within which it is located21. The return to the old structure -- as regards the inspectors -- has not been realized in full. Exceptions have been made not only for enormous autonomous okrugs like Khanty-Mansi and Iamal-Nenets, but also for, say, the Nenets district as well22. Each of these has its own chief federal inspector.

28In other cases, there are surprising and unusual combinations. One chief federal inspector (CFI) covers both Iakutia and the Magadan region, another combines Kamchatka with the ethnic Koriak and Chukchi autonomous okrugs, a third is responsible for both the Tuva and Khakasia republics. It looks as though these inspectorates were created for specific persons: a general from the border guards rather logically takes care of the Chukchi region along with Kamchatka, while a former high-ranking local official oversees the huge combined territory of Yakutia and the Magadan region. One further very strange such innovation is the unification of the Kabarda-Balkar republic with Kavminvody, that part of the Stavropol region, which in 1993 gained the status of a special ecological-resort area under joint federal and regional jurisdiction23. The pairing of mutually hostile Ingushetia and North Ossetia with Ingushetia’s former speaker Magomed Sultygov as the CFI also appeared very odd. It looks as if the territorial ranking and related status of the various constituent regions of the Russian Federation, unlike the ethnic factor, do not deserve attention. None of the “small” autonomous regions, except for Nenets, rated its own CFI, and a number of Northern Caucasian republics were put under a single CFI, as though they were being bound together to form a reliable unit for this section of Russia’s borderlands

29Who are the chief federal inspectors ? Half of those 40 whose biography is known to us originate from KGB (15), MVD (5), and the so-called control departments of regional administrations (3)24. There are at least five chiefs of the regional FSB25 among these 40 inspectors, four more are chiefs of regional Tax police with the rank of general26. MVD chiefs are fewer, only in the Yamal-Nenets and Tambov regions: maybe this is because they are more often “governor’s guys”. If the military are added one can conclude that three fourths of federal inspectors came from power ministries and the special services.

30In the three years that have elapsed since the CFIs were appointed, in July to October 2000, they have been replaced in almost every second region (41)27. This should not be surprising; it’s a normal phenomenon. It is more surprising that only one presidential envoy has been replaced during this time. Given the rather haphazard selection of those who fill that post this can only be explained by the lack of clear functional demands. The CFIs are a different matter: their functions are far more specific and so greater demands are placed on them, hence the turnover.

31It is interesting to see where the former CFIs went and who replaced them.

32Structural changes led to the appointment of CFIs to the two capital regions where they had not been in existence earlier. There were also changes in the areas they covered: the Jewish AO and the Karachaevo-Cherkes republic, formerly inspected, respectively, from the Khabarovsk and Stavropol regions, gained their own inspectors, as did Chechnya. When the new Federation Council was formed 3 CFIs became senators (from Ulyanovsk, Omsk28 and Perm) and another, from Khakasia, became head of the Federation Council staff. CFIs from Moscow were replaced by locals in the Maritime and Irkutsk regions. Finally, promotions elevated the Ivanovo CFI E. Shkolov to become an aide to the head of the presidential staff while the Nizhny Novgorod CFI S. Obozov was made deputy envoy. In a number of cases the departure of the CFI was preceded by serious rows, e.g. Altai, Irkutsk and Moscow regions, or even criminal investigations, e.g. Udmurtia and Bryansk region.

33Overall, therefore, the CFI played a comparatively small role as a reserve of cadres and in many cases their replacement was unavoidable.

The prosecutors: once again the Sovereign's eye29

34Prosecutors who were the first to pass through mass ‘cleansings’ are the lone among analyzed siloviki categories who still remain not finally reformed yet. There are pretty many of them who came to their posts in mid or even early 90-ies and made careers in their own regions.

35If chief militia and FSB men are appointed by president and chief federal inspector by the presidential administration head demanding for a minimal submitting, prosecutors are appointed by the prosecutor General with local authorities approval needed. The latter can sometimes demonstrate their character like in cases of Moscow prosecutor in 2000, Krasnoyarsk krai in 2001 or Bashkiria in 2004. If a guy comes from outside the region than the scheme works according to which he is usually getting appointed deputy prosecutor first and active prosecutor later before being confirmed by regional legislation.

36«Bringing of a regional legislature into line with federal one” can serve a test, a business game, which lets to check in reality independence of prosecutors from regional authorities, their loyalty to the Center and effectiveness.

37Many of prosecutors have passed through severe trials. Out of recent examples there are Bashkiria and Tatarstan prosecutors’ coming against local authorities, which ended by heart attack and resignation for the former. Udmurtia’s prosecutor in 2003 behaved in a different way, occupying position of local authorities in their conflict with the Center over VGTRK – All-Russian State Television and Radio Company. He was fired in result, but according to local journalist approaching the pension age he was waiting for an apartment being thus more dependent from republican authorities than from Moscow.

38 Prosecutors by their life path originate most of all from the very midst of the masses. After serving in the army as conscripts they went to law schools, became investigators and were climbing up step by step at career stairs.

39An average regional prosecutor is younger than his colleagues-siloviki – he is 4930. He is at his post practically from the beginning of reforms – for three years and a half31 and, probably will resign from this very post sometime in future, although it’s not clear in how long. However, there is a chance to grow to the deputy prosecutor general or to a regional governor. The horizontal rotation of prosecutors itself was minimal last years due to ongoing intensive renewal of their corps there were a lot of vertical mobility with deputy regional prosecutors, regional centers’ prosecutors and branch prosecutors growing to regional prosecutor. About two fifths of current regional prosecutors including almost all veterans made careers in their own regions, about the same share – in other regions of their federal district, and less than a quarter – in other districts.

40The role of the Prosecutor general office district departments as of regional prosecutors incubator is minimal, except for North Caucasus department and position of prosecutor in Chechnya with rotation twice a year. Ten prosecutors have passed through Chechnya with two of them already heading regional offices in Rostov and Volgograd.

41There are regions where prosecutors can’t seat in their chairs for long: Stavropol Krai and Kurgan (prosecutora there are fourth in raw since reforms have been started), Kalmykia, Chita (third in raw). Moscow city prosecutors serve regularly as victims of political games.

42Not only scandalous conflicts in Nenets okrug, Kamchatka etc. can illustrate well increased independence of prosecutors, but their active participation in the last series of gubernatorial elections as well. In Koryak okrug prosecutor B. Chuyev consolidated siloviki and came to the runoff; in Kirov oblast’ the former prosecutor N. Shaklein, although not regional one, was elected to governor’s office.

The general pattern: unity of time and space

43Now, when we traced the development at regional level in major siloviki corporations – pillars of the new Putin’s regime, the general time pattern of the on-going federal reform can be considered.

44Figure 1 shows dynamics of CFI, FSB and MVD chiefs and prosecutors replacements  against the background of a regional political calendar – gubernatorial elections. Distinct branch specialization of reform years is clearly seen there. The year 2000 can be called prosecutor-gubernatorial – there were 20 prosecutors and 15 governors replaced. The year 2001 was “militia’s” with 21 new chief of UVD/GUVD being appointed! The year 2002 is “siloviki’s”: 20 new prosecutors, 19 CFI and 18 chekists! The next year 2003 is “militia’s” again – 27 replacements! Finally, the year 2004 is “prosecutors-FSB’s” – 18 and 17 replacements accordingly.

45Thus, temporal patterns differ. In FSB rotation is rather stable by years: 12 persons in 2000-2001 and 16-18 during last years. Replacements of regional heads follow the four-year cycle although slightly diffused, they reach maximum in 2000 and correspondingly 2004, and are less pronounced in between. Regional militiamen went through two huge waves of replacements: in 2001 the first, in 2003 the second. Prosecutors have similar waves although with a shift – in 2000 and 2002, less in 2004.

46There is strong variation among regions in character and intensity of powermen and law enforcement replacements. There were six cases of volley, total replacements, when the whole team of siloviki was renewed in a year or so: Petersburg (late 2002 - 2003), Volgograd (late 2000 – 2001), Tver (late 2002 - 2003), Magadan (2002-2003) oblasts, Krasnoyarsk (2001) and Stavropol (late 2001 – 2002) Krais. In several cases more: Mordovia, Tuva, Udmurtia, Perm, Sakhalin oblasts, Krasnodar Krai replacements were total although took longer. Another pole consists of regions without any replacements like Dagestan, Kabarda-Balkaria, and Aga-Buryat district, or with isolated replacements: Tatarstan, Chuvashia, Altaysky Krai, Orel, Penza, Tambov, Tula, Samara, Kemerovo oblasts, Yamal-Nenets and Ust-Orda Buriat districts. Majority of them are regions with influential regional leaders being them M. Shaimiiev, E. Stroiev, K. Titov, A. Tuleyev and others having strong positions.

47Regular combinations of regional siloviki replacements are of special interest. Some of them can be seen at the first glance. For example, one could see that in four regions out of six with blitz-replacements of all federals there were governors who changed as well, with the new governor coming at the end of all replacements, a kind of finale. Another curious regularity is almost an omen: in one third of all cases of governors replacements they were preceded by prosecutors replacements on the eve of elections (within half a year). One can suppose that the Center, when replacing prosecutor just before gubernatorial elections was making usage of an administrative resource by incumbent much harder.  

48It would be logical to expect that a new governor coming to power would not work well together with siloviki, inherited by him from his predecessor and would try to replace them. To test this hypothesis we made  a so called ruler of replacements with a new governor coming taken as a zero point. Analysis of about a third of governors’ changes in 2000-2002 showed that, following a governor, CFI and UVD chief have been changed with a probability of 2/3, and prosecutor and FSB chief with a probability of 2/5. All siloviki replacements are taking place in average during the second year after the governor’s arrival with the following logic: militia chief is the first to be replaced at the beginning of the governor’s second year (in 14 months after election); prosecutor’s turn comes in the middle of the second year (16 months), FSB representative follows (17) with CFI being replaced in the last turn (19).

49It would be wrong to overestimate the degree of coordination of different agencies actions dealing with local cadres replacements. However the lack of such coordination can lead to the result, opposite to the desired one, – a temporal loss of control over the situation. The case of Tver can serve as a good illustration here. Almost simultaneous replacement of CFI, MVD and FSB chiefs, and prosecutor with strangers’, who came from outside led to half a paralysis of the Center there, just on the eve of gubernatorial elections. However, such cases are pretty rare.

Table 2. Replacements of governors, chief federal inspectors, FSB and MVD chiefs by years, 2000-2004.





































Siloviki in regional elites

50Let us look at how siloviki, whose loyalty to the Center increased sharply with the reforms, are included into regional political elites. The recent study on regional elites by the Institute of situational analysis and of new technologies (ISANT)32 makes it possible to evaluate enrootedness and influence of major federals-siloviki on a base of 66 regions.

51First of all, only in one case out of 66 – Irkutsk oblast’ – experts did not include any siloviki into two dozens of the most influential persons in politics and top thirty in the economy. In 16 regions, more siloviki occupy only a single position in the lists. It is CFI most of all33. Militia chief are twice less common34, in rare cases there are prosecutor, UFSB chief and even first deputy envoy35. As for the rest of the country, 49 regions chiefs of power and law enforcement agencies occupy from two to five positions among most influential persons.

52Chief federal inspectors are mentioned most often – in two thirds of all cases (49 regions), including 19, where CFI are included in top ten and Chuvashia, Kursk, Orel, Samara, and Tula where they are coming in top three (although being third everywhere). It should be noted that CFI are usually most influential among the four of federals. In 35 regions they are either leading, or being single ones mentioned. In Chuvashia and Lipetsk not only chief but ordinary federal inspectors are mentioned as well. In Altaysky and Stavropol Krais, Amur, Kirov, Orel, Tyumen oblasts CFI are included to the list of most influential persons in economy as well. The average rating of CFI in those four dozens of regions where they are mentioned as influential is about 13.

53Regional UVD bosses are mentioned in 41 case. They do occupy three seventh positions (in Krasnoyarsky Krai, Volgograd and Omsk oblasts), forth (Belgorod), fifth (Kaluga) and sixth (Tver) positions. Most of all they do occupy second place among the four of feederals (16 regions), although a little more rarely the first and the third (in 12 cases each). In ethnic republics (there are 10 of them in our sample) ministers of interior are mentioned almost everywhere, including Bashkiria and Kalmykia where they head the list of federals, and Yakutia and Tatarstan where they are single federals in ratings. The average rating of militia generals is 17. In a few cases, namely in Kemerovo, Kirov, Ryazan, Tula, they are represented in economic ratings as well.

54Prosecutors are represented among most influential persons in regional politics in half of the regions36, including those seven, where they head the four of federals and the one – Orenburg region, where the prosecutor leads the whole list. In Altaisky and Primorskii Krais prosecutors are represented in economic rating as well. The average rating of prosecutors for 33 regions is 17,5.

55UFSB chiefs are most secretive actors on the regional political scene. As representatives of the political establishment, they are mentioned in one third of the regions only – 26. However, in nine cases they do head the quartet of federals. In one case – the Kostroma region- they head the whole list. In three more regions, – Altaysky Krai, Voronezh and Nizhegorodskaya oblasts-,  they  are mentioned among the first three. In result the average UFSB rating – 17 is the same as for chief militiamen. In republics, UFSB just like prosecutor is a rare bird among elites.  

Once in a region…

56The impression about shifts occurrence would not be complete if we did not give specific cases, illustrating the general concept and helping the reader understand deeper the essence of what is going on.

2002-2003, Kalmykia.

57The story about the Kalmykian minister of Interior replacement starts in mid 2002, when, on the eve of regional presidential elections, the Kremlin started to clean a stage. FSB chief and prosecutor were already replaced earlier. Internal security department of the federal MVD together with FSB checked local militia and reported numerous abuses. Among other things they found facts of militia’s protection of illegal fish-caviar and oil businesses in the territory of the republic. Minister Sasykov was offered to give his resignation, but he refused. Pressure on him including through central media was increasing. Meanwhile elections were held and incumbent president Ilyumzhinov was reelected although not as triumphally as earlier, while a candidate of the oppisition backed by the siloviki wing of the Moscow presidential administration failed. At the beginning of 2003 Sasykov was discharged by the federal minister Grizlov order but he refused to obey. Instead of letting newly appointed minister (he was UVD chief from Siberian Tiumen oblast’ which is far away from Kalmykia) to his office he started to dispute MVD orders and even results of the Ministry’s attestation in local court, and later sent a letter to all regional militia chiefs claiming not to obey to “engineer Gryzlov, who does not make head or tail of the militia”. There was natural double power in republican MVD for several weeks. In May Sasikov was fired by presidential decree and a kind of special operation was organized. The general was invited to the meeting of MVD chiefs of Southern federal district, and when he left the republic he was arrested on accusation of abusing power and sent to Moscow under convoy. He was kept there till July when finally freed given a written undertaking not to leave the country – prosecutor’s general office did not find any evidence against him. However, the initial replacement of Sasykov was sent back to Moscow and a new minister was appointed who suited republican authorities better – deputy head of the district’s Main UVD department Ponomarev.

2003, Tver oblast’.

58During the year prior to gubernatorial elections, all major siloviki and law enforcement chiefs were replaced in the region with “Varangians” coming from different parts of the country. First during the fall 2002, the chief federal inspector, a former army reserve colonel from Petersburg, was replaced with FSB general Yu. Tseberganov from Transbaikal Chita region. Next January A. Rekhtyuk from Vladimir replaced FSB general who occupied his office since 1998. Two months later the local UVD chief commanding since 1996 was replaced by colonel A. Kulikov from Petersburg.

59Meanwhile the administration has been shaken  by corruption scandals, in September the office of the governor was searched. About this time the regional prosecutor left from his office. The tough competition between three generals took place at the State Duma and simultaneous gubernatorial elections. They were chief federal inspector Tseberganov, retired deputy-minister of Interior I. Zubov, and active deputy minister V. Vasil’yev, all of them being “Varangians”. D. Zelenin, an entrepreneur from outside the region was elected the new governor, while colonel-general V. Vasil’yev became a State Duma deputy.  


60Administrative-power skeleton was constructed or perhaps restored during Putin’s first presidential term. It consists of mighty verticals going from the top to the very bottom, and horizontals. Verticals are doubled – administrative and power – to be stronger. Administrative verticals are inherited from the Soviet-Communist past, they never disappeared, although regions were more independent for a while especially when electing governors. Power verticals are being constructed all over again, being connected at the regional level to a solid slab. They are connected between different agencies both within the region (by means of collegium under chief federal inspector, law enforcement collegium with prosecutor at the head, antiterrorist commission headed by deputy governor and regional security council headed by governor) and between regions, including different district collegiums and councils as well as cadres’ horizontal rotation.

61What is next ? A lattice can serve both carrying construction, which promotes the country’s unity, horizontal and vertical mobility, spatial justice; and a prison’s cage for regional elites and population. Which particular role will be realized depends heavily on the society itself, on Russian citizens.

62The Center’s actions look coordinated and strategically shaped only when they are observed from far away, with high degree of generalization. But seen from closer they look far more occasional, reactive and chaotic. However, in conditions of strong disbalance in favor of the Center it is him who nevertheless celebrates a victory finally. Regional leaders can win separate battles only, while their loss of the campaign on the whole is predetermined.

63It appears now that the administrative-power slab built up by the Kremlin only looks monolithic. There are growing contradictions between structures and agencies, which constitute it. Partly they are inspired by the Center itself, which acts by the principle ‘divide and rule’; partly they are inevitable consequences of the fight for power at regional level. Major pairs in conflict are: FSB and MVD, FSB and administrations, MVD and prosecutor’s office. FSB plays a special role in these conflicts: it is it who controls partly the whole cadre sphere, that is doing cleansings and that delegates if necessary its representatives to other power structures and administration. The problem is that such a system of surrogate division of power is closed from society even for mere observation, not to speak about control; it does not obey to strict rules and is not self-sufficient – it needs a constant interference from above to keep the balance.

64Finally, the other side of mass siloviki expansion outside of their agencies is an intensive vertical growth and sharp rejuvenation of cadres inside these agencies. It means that when appointing commissars-siloviki to positions of chief federal inspector and others, when promoting them to governors, Putin kills two birds with one stone: he is strengthening his positions in different spheres by those who came from power agencies, and simultaneously he is strengthening loyalty of these very structures, where more and more newly promoted are obliged to him for their career growth.

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Graph 1 : Siloviki replacements in regions by years

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1 The paper is partly based on authors chapter (Petrov, Nikolai, “The Security Dimension of Federal Reform,” in Reddaway, Peter and Orttung, Robert W., eds., The Dynamics of Russian Politics: Putin's Reform of Federal-Regional Relations, Volume II, forthcoming 2005) and the Carnegie Moscow Center briefing The Federal Reform and Cadres (2004, vol. 6, issue 4-5, in Russian).
2 It can be mentioned that different law enforcement agencies were headed in the past not only by president Putin (FSB), but also by prime-minister Fradkov (FSNP – Tax Police) and the State Duma speaker Gryzlov (Ministry of Interior).  According to O. Kryshtanovskaya, who used the term ‘militocracy’ to describe the current Russian regime, the share of ‘men in epaulettes’ among top managerial elite (starting from deputy minister and higher) is 25%.  
3 Several manifestations of this phenomenon can be mentioned showing usage of the cold war methods in internal politics. They are: - The growing presence of FSB representatives in executive and legislative structures, and growing FSB control over all spheres of societal life including the economy, politics, mass media, etc.; - The growing role of the FSB, police, and military in society in general along with the restoration of public trust in them and acceptance of the need for order and security (especially after the 1999 Moscow bombings); - Actions according to the principle “the ends justify the means” with double standards and the placement of “the highest interests of the state” (as understood by ‘siloviki’ themselves above everything; - Oversimplification of decision-making process, avoiding any uncertainty including the one connected with elections, and preferring a kind of paramilitary type direct subordination to any other ‘complicated’ scheme; - Closeness and a lack of transparency in the functioning of the executive; - Approach toward politics including elections as toward a special operation; - Public opinion manipulation through an “information war” with propaganda and counterpropaganda operations; - The large-scale use of compromising materials (including those gathered under the slogan of fighting corruption), blackmail, which is becoming a “normal” political instrument ()the back side of the coin is that authorities become interested in having dirty, corrupt governors, and more manageable ministers); - The use of law instead of the rule of law, with the General Procurator’s office and the court system apparently being used to support the authorities rather than acting independently in support of the law. For more details read Nikolai Petrov, Policization versus Democratization. 20 Months of Putin’s “Federal” Reform. PONARS policy Memo # 241, 2002.
4 Reference to a famous metaphor of Leonid Smirnyagin, advisor to Eltsin on regional issues, who described himself as a person staying far above political animals or insects.
5 Putin was appointed secretary of the Security Council on 29 March 1999 and served there until 9 September that year when he was made acting Prime Minister. He himself became a member of the Security Council with his appointment as director of the FSB on 24 July 1998.
6 Those appointed to head the chief administrations of the MVD for the okrugs were appointed in July-August 2001 from among those heading the regional internal affairs departments. Central – lieutenant general Sergei Shchadrin, head of Rostov region GUVD (after he was promoted to deputy minister in October 2003 he was replaced by his deputy major general Alexander Kirushev as active chief); Urals -- lieutenant general Alexei Krasnikov, head of Sverdlovsk region GUVD; Volga -- lieutenant general Vladimir Shcherbakov, minister of internal affairs for Udmurtia; North-West – major general Boris Uyemlyanin, head of Arkhangelsk region GUVD (replaced in May 2003 by major-general Andrei Novikov, head of administration for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, formerly working in Petersburg; in February 2005 Novikov left for Moscow being appointed deputy Minister of Interior); Far Eastern -- lieutenant general Anatoly Zolotaryov, head of Khabarovsk region UVD; Siberian – major general Yury Skovorodin, head of Perm region UVD; and Southern -- lieutenant general Mikhail Rudchenko, head of Krasnoiarsk region GUVD (after he died in Chechnia in February 2002 he was succeeded by colonel-general Mikhail Pankov, deputy commander of the MVD internal troops). Thus in three of the seven okrugs (Central, Siberian and Southern) the police chiefs were “outsiders”. However, there was no special scheme behind these long-distance transfers. Sergei Shchadrin, for instance, was initially appointed to his “own” Southern okrug but preferred transfer to Moscow. During the first three years after these appointments the heads of the GU in both okrugs with civilian envoys were promoted. By March 2005 only four district MVD generals kept their posts out of seven with replacements in North-Western (twice), Southern (twice), and Central districts coming most of all from MVD district headquarters.
7 The Soviet Union had three power ministries: the Ministry of Defense, the KGB, and the Ministry of Interior. In contrast, Russia has created 14 power ministries who each have thousands of troops at their command. The Armed Forces (Vooruzhennyie sily), numbering 1.2 million, are subordinated to the Minister of Defense and the General Staff, and consist of land forces, naval forces, strategic rocket troops, air forces, and paramilitary troops. They are organized by territorial units and centrally subordinated divisions. The Ministry of the Interior has 200,000 Internal Troops, plus ten thousand more special forces: regional Special Rapid Reaction Forces (SOBRs) and Militia Special Purposes Forces (OMONs). The Federal Border Guard Service has another 200,000 troops. The Federal Agency on Governmental Communication (FAPSI) has 55,000 troops; there are 50,000 railroad troops, 30,000 civil-defense troops under the Ministry of Emergencies (plus several divisions for special purposes), and 20,000 troops in the Main Department for Special Programs of the president. The Federal Service for Special Construction (Spetsstroi) commands 14,000 troops; the Federal Guards Service (FSO) with its presidential brigade oversees 3,000; and the Federal Tax Police Service and State Customs Committee have special physical protection units with 10,000 troops. Then, of course, there are the forces of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) with its spetsnaz, and the spetsnaz of the Main Department for Punishments (GUIN) of the Ministry of Justice. A modest estimate shows that there are up to a dozen and more generals in a region.
8 When still director of the FSB Putin very clearly outlined his position on this issue during an interview with Izvestiia in late 1998: “The FSB should be preserved as a unified, powerful and exclusively federal and vertically organised system.” Furthermore, “The most important thing is that the general direction be correct. That the service should grow stronger and by its actions strengthen Russian statehood,” Izvestiia, 19 December 1998.
9 Of 74 regional police chiefs for whom I was able to gather information, 29 were appointed before 2000 and 45 since.
10 The scale of the problems with which the federal leadership has to cope can be illustrated by the replacement of the minister of internal affairs in the Kalmyk republic. To begin with there were lengthy attempts to persuade this local, an ethnic Kalmyk and fellow-student of the president Ilyumzhinov, to “go quietly”: pressure was applied by the federal ministry (major investigations, reports to the ministry collegium), information was leaked and there were scandalised publications in the press. When this made no difference a new minister was appointed. The former incumbent refused to obey Gryzlov’s order, contesting it in court, and for two months there were two ministers. Finally the insubordinate general was lured to a meeting in the neighbouring region and arrested on a very phoney pretext. Several months later, when the change had been effected, the former minister was released.
11 Such information was analysed for the incumbent police chiefs in 67 regions. Of 23 in ethnic republics and districts 14 had grown up in the region, three were of the same ethnicity but from elsewhere while five were appointed from other regions. Of 44 police chiefs in predominantly Russian regions, 17 were locals, a further four were local but had served elsewhere immediately before their appointment (as a rule in Moscow). Twenty were outsiders while three more were promoted from within the region but had moved there not long before.
12 Of 36 appointments analysed for 2000-2003, 11 were made in ethnic areas (six locals, including one not appointed directly and 5 outsiders) and 25 in predominantly Russian areas (eight locals, including three via another region, and 17 outsiders).
13 This rule affects ranks up to and including lieutenant general; from colonel-general upwards the age limit is increased to 60.
14 In Belgorod, Omsk, Riazan, Cheliabinsk and the Khanty-Mansy district the local FSB chief became Chief Federal Inspector; in Kursk and Tver regions, respectively, the Volgograd and Chita FSB chiefs became CFI.
15 Of the 71 regional FSB chiefs for whom we managed to collect information, 22 were appointed before 2000 and 49 since then.
16 Slightly more common is the “region to region via Moscow” model (Buriatia 2002, Smolensk 2002, Sverdlovsk 2000, Sakhalin 1999, Vologda 1999); less common is the shift “from second- or third-ranking to top post via Moscow” (Murmansk 2002, Moscow 2000).
17 There are two exceptions that confirm this rule, the FSB chief for Petersburg and the Leningrad region and the FSB chief for Moscow and the surrounding region. Both previously headed major departments in the federal level FSB. We may note that the chiefs for the two capitals head the largest departments in the FSB and, formally or not, rank as deputy directors of the FSB.
18 If there is anything really good about the formation of the federal okrugs, I guess it’s a rather essential move towards the restoration of the unified elite space, which in past years was split into 89 pieces with elite pupation by regions and an almost total absence of horizontal elite movements.
19 If we do not count Kiriyenko himself who left Nizhni Novgorod in 1997 and Valentin Stepankov, the former Prosecutor General. The latter earlier served in Perm and came back to his region in 1995 after the failure of his Moscow career. During the last three years he has represented Perm in the State Duma.
20 The old system of presidential reps was dismantled when the federal inspectors were introduced, the reps being informed in mid-May that their prerogatives were revoked since the inauguration of the president on May 7th. They were given two month to find a new job. About one third managed to find employment within the new structures: either in the okrug administrations or as chief federal inspectors (a total of 20), mostly in the Central and Siberian okrugs.
21 This is the case with the Perm (Komi-Permiak AO), Khabarovsk (Jewish AO), Chita (Aga-Buryat AO), Irkutsk (Ust’-Orda Buriat AO), Krasnodar (Adygea) and Stavropol (Karachai-Cherkes republic) regions.
22 One may add that in spite of all territorial-administrative changes of the last decade the FSB territorial departments maintained the same unified units: Moscow and the Moscow region, Petersburg and the Leningrad region, and the Arkhangelsk, Irkutsk, Kamchatka, Magadan, Perm, Tyumen and Krasnoyarsk regions together with their autonomous ethnic districts.
23 Not only was the Stavropol region divided into two, each part having its own federal inspector: the same happened to the neighbouring Krasnodar region, with a separate inspector supervising Sochi, the main Black Sea resort.
24 No other details of these controllers’ biographies are available, but at the present time this is the service for regular officers of the KGB-FSB, as is the Federal tax police service.
25 From the Khanty-Mansi district and the Omsk, Cheliabinsk, Riazan and Volgograd regions.
26 Of Karelia and the Volgograd, Vologda, and Murmansk regions.
27 This total includes instances when CFIs responsible for two and more regions were replaced (characteristic of the Southern and Far Eastern okrugs). The actual number of individuals who were replaced was 35.
28 The Omsk CFI S. Mironov spent a few months in this post but soon returned to his former appointment.
29 “Oko Gosudarevo” is the term used in old Tsarist times.
30 This is perhaps effect of asymmetrical sample – we did manage to find information about age of 24 prosecutors only – it’s about a third of all of them.
31 However, there are long-livers among prosecutors, who came to their offices in early 90-ies. They are prosecutors of Altaiski Krai, Orenburg and Tambov oblasts. Arkhangelsk, Irkutsk, and Vladimir prosecutors who were appointed at the beginning of Eltsin’s second term can be considered to be long-livers as well.  
32 Samie vliiate’nie liudi Rossii – 2003 (The most influential persons of Russia). Moscow: ISANT. 2004. – 696 p.
33 Chief federal inspectors as single siloviki representatives are reported in Komi Republic and Khanti-Mansi okrug (8th place in both cases), Tomsk (11), Moskovskaia (14), Iaroslavl (19), Perm (23), Sakhalin (24), Kurgan (25), and Leningrad (25) oblasts.
34 MVD/UVD chiefs are reported as single influential siloviki in Belgorod oblast’ (4th place), Tatarstan (16), Novossibirsk oblast’ (16) and Iakutia (34).  
35 Prosecutor is the most influential of federals in Pskov oblast’, where he comes seventeen in poltics, FSB chief – in Moscow (16), first deputy envoy – in Sverdlovsk (10). One could mention also that envoy himself is included into Petersburg lists being ranked sixth according to his political influence and thirteen by economic influence; first deputy envoy is included into Rostov list (18), deputy envoys in Buryatia (3), Krasnodar (15) and Stavropol (third in politics, 26th in economy). Besides them deputy prosecutor general is mentioned out of district-level bosses in Khabarovsk krai (23).
36 It seems interesting that prosecutor general V. Ustinov used results of this study to address regional prosecutors at recent collegium. Rossiiskaia gazeta, 13.07.2004.
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Electronic reference

Nikolay Petrov, Siloviki in Russian Regions: New Dogs, Old TricksThe Journal of Power Institutions in Post-Soviet Societies [Online], Issue 2 | 2005, Online since 01 May 2005, connection on 05 July 2022. URL:; DOI:

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About the author

Nikolay Petrov

Carnegie Moscow Center, Russia

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