We’ve all heard about the Russian government’s preemptive planning to augment the riot police and expand their powers to break up protests – which are expected to increase dramatically as a result of the global economic crisis – but the level of organization among these various security bodies was most fully expressed today by former economic adviser to Vladimir Putin, Andrei Illarionov, during his testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. There is nothing particularly new here, but assembled together, these facts point toward a trend of Russia turning into a police state (or is it already there?).
The Corporation of Secret Police
The personnel of Federal Security Service — both in active service as well as retired one — form a special type of unity (non-necessarily institutionalized) that can be called brotherhood, order, or corporation. The Corporation of the secret police operatives (CSP) includes first of all acting and former officers of the FSB (former KGB), and to a lesser extent FSO and Prosecutor General Office. Officers of GRU and SVR do also play some role. The members of the Corporation do share strong allegiance to their respective organizations, strict codes of conduct and of honor, basic principles of behavior, including among others the principle of mutual support to each other in any circumstances and the principle of omerta. Since the Corporation preserves traditions, hierarchies, codes and habits of secret police and intelligence services, its members show high degree of obedience to the current leadership, strong loyalty to each other, rather strict discipline. There are both formal and informal means of enforcing these norms. Violators of the code of conduct are subject to the harshest forms of punishment, including the highest form.
CSP and the Russian society
Members of the CSP are specially trained, strongly motivated andmentally oriented to use force against other people and in this regarddiffer substantially from civilians. The important distinction ofenforcement in today’s Russia from enforcement in rule-based nations isthat in the former case it doesn’t necessarily imply enforcement ofLaw. It means solely enforcement of Power and Force regardless of Law,quite often against Law. Members of the Corporation are trained andinspired with the superiority complex over the rest of the population.Members of the Corporation exude a sense of being the bosses thatsuperior to other people who are not members of the CSP. They areequipped with membership perks, including two most tangible instrumentsconferring real power over the rest of population in today’s Russia –the FSB IDs and the right to carry and use weapons.
Capture of State Power by the CSP
Since ascension of Vladimir Putin to power the members of the CSPhave infiltrated all branches of power in Russia. According to the OlgaKryshtanovskaya’s study up to 77% of the 1016 top government positionshave been taken by people with security background (26% with openlystated affiliation to different enforcement agencies and other 51% withhidden affiliation). Main bodies of the Russian state (PresidentialAdministration, Government apparatus, Tax agency, Ministry of ForeignAffairs, Ministry of Defense, Parliament, Court system) as well as mainbusiness groups and most important mass-media outlets have beencaptured by the CSP. Since the members of the CSP have taken keypositions in the most important institutions of the state, businessgroups, media channels, almost all valuable resources available in thesociety (political, executive, legal, judicial, enforcement, military,economic, financial, media) have been concentrated and in many casesmonopolized in the hands of the CSP.