Shuffling the siloviki: who may be the winners and losers in 2012?

With Putin’s presidential election over, now the question becomes who will make it into the new government, at a time when some insiders are suggesting there may be some substantial change. On the whole, the siloviki tend not to experience particularly rapid reshuffles, but there are some who are looking more vulnerable. In a couple of columns for the Moscow News, I look first at the three key silovik ministers (Serdyukov at Defense, Nurgaliev of the MVD and Prosecutor General Chaika), and secondly at the chiefs of the main security and intelligence services (FSB, SVR, GRU, FSKN, FSO). After all, it’s not just about personalia: the decisions about who stays and goes and more to the point the nature and origins of any new hires will say a lot about what Putin plans for the future, and what he fears.

‘Contract killing is a continuation of business by other means’

It goes against the grain, but sometimes – rarely – I feel Putin and the Russian security apparatus deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt. On 6 October, the interesting but often-sensationalist Russian newspaper Novaya gazeta ran an article ‘Registered Speciality – the Killer’ which claimed that the Russian spetsluzhby, the security agencies, now routinely murder enemies of the Kremlin. The author, Novaya gazeta’s military affairs editor Vyacheslav Izmailov, pulls together a varied collection of killings and kidnappings and asserts that the same sinister hand is behind them all.

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