Associate Professor of Government Sharon Werning Rivera and Scholar-in-residence David Rivera published “Is Russia a Militocracy? Conceptual Issues and Extant Findings Regarding Elite Militarization,” in Post-Soviet Affairs (No. 1 2014: 27-40). Post-Soviet Affairs is one of the leading area-studies journals for political scientists working on East Central Europe and Eurasia.
In their article, the authors investigate the widespread assumption that since Vladimir Putin assumed the presidency on Jan. 1, 2000, large numbers of siloviki, individuals with experience in the military and security agencies, have been recruited into positions of power and authority throughout the polity and economy. They explore the inherent difficulties involved in making such an assessment and also present a sweeping overview of existing estimates of the extent of elite militarization.
The authors find that the most straightforward reading of existing data indicates that the percentage of siloviki in the political elite during Putin’s first two terms as president was approximately half of that which has been widely reported in both scholarship and the media, and also declined during the Medvedev presidency. In addition, their analysis of a broader cross-section of the elite that includes business and cultural figures produces estimates of military-security representation during the Putin presidency to have been lower still.
In this article, the authors wrote, “Overall, whether one examines only Russian ‘officialdom’ or a broader cross-section of influential members of Russian society, the correct inference to draw from extant data is that perhaps Russia’s top political leadership came to be dominated by siloviki during the Putin presidency but its elite as a whole definitely did not." On the other hand, the authors also point out that past trends provide some basis for expecting that the numbers of siloviki will once again rise during Putin’s current presidential term.
The Riveras’ most recent article on this subject is the product of their on-going research on the composition of the Russian elite. Due largely to the time-consuming and arduous nature of in-depth biographical analysis, their research program represents one of only two in the world that have compiled large-N data on the backgrounds of the individuals occupying Russia’s governmental institutions and utilized those data to estimate the extent of elite militarization.The other research program was formerly housed at the Institute of Sociology in Moscow.