Who are the Silowiki? Meaning, definition, explanation

In Russia, „siloviki“ refers to politicians or people with political influence who were previously intelligence officers, in the military, or the like.

The word „siloviki“ literally means „man of force“ in english.

In Russia, the siloviki are close advisors to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Who are the Silowiki? Meaning, definition, explanation

In the opaque world of Russian political power, one often encounters the term „siloviki“, which refers to an influential group of elites, security forces and civil servants in Russia. The meaning of this term goes far beyond its linguistic definition and shapes the understanding of political structures in Russia. The „siloviki“ are feared and are surrounded by an aura of mystery. They are also suspected of being used as spies abroad.

In the course of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the term „siloviki“ has become increasingly important (especially in a negative context). But what exactly does „siloviki“ mean, where does the term come from and what functions do „siloviki“ fulfill in particular? This article therefore explores the in-depth definition of „siloviki“, highlights their unique characteristics and thus provides an insight into the power dynamics within the Russian elite. Understanding the role of the siloviki is essential to deciphering Russia’s complex political landscape and understanding their impact on the national and international stage.

Explanation of the term „siloviki“

The term „siloviki“ comes from the Russian language and is an artificial word made up of the words „sila“ (meaning „power“) and „cheloveki“ (meaning „people“). Combined, „silowiki“ could roughly be translated as „people with strong influence“ or „power elites“.

The „siloviki“ are an influential group of elites in Russia who derive their power from security and military structures. Members of this group can be high-ranking military officers as well as members of the security services or secret services. Historically, the „siloviki“ have exerted a considerable influence on Russia’s political and economic landscape. Their influence extends across a wide range of areas, from security policy to the economy, and has had a significant impact on the power structures within the Russian elite.

The „siloviki“ are therefore feared and are considered very dangerous people in Russia, or people who should be respected (for their own safety). They increasingly operate in secret and are responsible for a large number of events in the social and political context.

Origin and meaning of „siloviki“

The term became prominent during the presidency of Vladimir Putin, when former employees of the security services and the military took up key positions in politics and business. The group of „siloviki“ stands for stability and national security and plays a key role in shaping Russia’s political agenda. The significance of „siloviki“ also extends beyond institutional boundaries and influences political dynamics and decision-making processes in Russia on a large scale.

The emergence of the term „siloviki“ therefore dates back to the early 2000s, when Russia (shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union) was undergoing a major transformation process. Former political elites moved into the economy (also thanks to Putin’s help) and formed powerful corporations.

How the „siloviki“ work

The „siloviki“ operate as a political and economic force in Russia, drawing their power from security and military structures. Members of this group, often former members of the security services or the military, hold key positions in government, business and the security apparatus. They influence political decisions and assert their own interests, particularly with regard to national security and stability. The „siloviki“ often operate in the background, but play a decisive role in shaping Russia’s political landscape by skillfully using their power and influence. Crimes or murders committed by the „siloviki“ are repeatedly covered up or concealed.

Areas of use of „siloviki“

Today, we encounter the term „siloviki“ in many different areas within Russia. However, the term „siloviki“ is mainly associated with the following words:

  • Russian Federation
  • Russian elites
  • security services

The following subsections will be used to explain the above key words in combination with the term „siloviki“ in more detail.

Russian Federation

The term „siloviki“ is inextricably linked to the political landscape of the Russian Federation. This group significantly influences political decisions and contributes to shaping national security policy and stability. The „siloviki“ play a key role in strategic directional decisions that affect the entire nation.

Russian elites

Within the Russian elites, the „siloviki“ are a prominent and influential group. Its members, often former members of the security services, shape important political and economic decisions. This network within the elite promotes the assertion of their interests and strengthens their positions in the political and economic arenas.

Security services

The „siloviki“ have their roots in Russia’s security services. This includes various areas such as the domestic intelligence service „FSB“ and the Ministry of Defense. The members of this group maintain their links to the security structures and use them to achieve political and economic goals.

Social classification of „siloviki“

The „siloviki“ occupy a prominent position in Russian society, which is characterized by security and military structures. This group is a key player in shaping political decisions and the direction of national security policy. Their emphasis on stability and power underlines the importance of security aspects in Russian society.

The „siloviki“ symbolize not only political influence, but also the close intertwining of security apparatuses and the political elite, which shapes the social perception of power and control in Russia. It is sometimes unclear how members of the „siloviki“ can be recognized – however, they are often former military personnel who are now active as entrepreneurs and are therefore comparatively easy to expose.

Reviews on the subject of „siloviki“

Critics of the „siloviki“ emphasize the potential danger of excessive militarization of the political elite. It is also argued that this can lead to opaque concentrations of power and a prioritization of security concerns at the expense of other social needs. Another point of criticism concerns the limited diversity in political decision-making processes, as the „siloviki“ often share similar backgrounds. The close connection between security services and the political elite can also compromise democratic principles. Despite their influence, the opaque nature of this group is seen as problematic, as it could be a potential source of corruption and abuse and therefore a danger to the general public.

Conclusion on the topic of „silowiki“ and the use of similar terms

In summary, the „siloviki“ can be described as a group of people who are former power elites in Russia, who are now primarily entrepreneurs and exert a strong influence on politics and everyday life in Russia.

The term „siloviki“ is related to the terms „politburo“ and „oligarchs“, among others. While the „Politburo“ was the supreme political body that influenced the policies and decisions of the Communist Party, „oligarchs“ refers to important players in the Russian political and economic elite.


Autor: Pierre von BedeutungOnline

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