[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2006, 18:27 GMT
KGB influence 'soars under Putin'
By Steven Eke
BBC Russian affairs analyst

Vladimir Putin shoots a pistol while touring a new intelligence HQ in Moscow
Vladimir Putin has filled top posts with spy service alumni
Four out of five political leaders and state administrators in Russia either have been or still are members of the security services, a study suggests.

The unprecedented research implies a huge expansion of KGB-FSB influence in politics and business in recent years.

Many of the officials concerned have been appointed under President Vladimir Putin - himself a former spy chief.

This has led many liberal commentators to claim their influence is growing unchecked, and threatening democracy.

Politics and business

This new research was conducted by Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a respected academic, for the Centre for the Study of the Elite, part of the prestigious Academy of Sciences.

It confirms that the siloviki - ex-KGB operatives or those working for its successor organisation, the FSB - have done well in President Putin's Russia.

It has long been thought that their influence was growing. But this first, concerted attempt to provide empirical evidence of its scale, has produced some surprising results.

Vladimir Putin tours a new intelligence HQ in Moscow
Mr Putin recently toured a new defence intelligence HQ in Moscow

Among the presidential administration, members of the government, deputies of both chambers of parliament, regional heads, as well as the boards of Russia's top state corporations, four in five officials worked for the KGB, or continue to work for one or more of its successor organisations.

The research also suggests the political and business elites are rapidly coalescing, with some key industrial figures, such as the head of the state weapons export agency, also from the same security service heritage.


How different Russia looks from other formerly communist countries in eastern Europe, where there have been attempts to identify individuals who worked for Soviet-era security services, many of which were highly repressive.

Some of these individuals have been put on trial for their alleged crimes.

But perhaps more significantly, there has been a real effort to keep them out of politics and big business.

But whatever it means for Russia's future as a democracy - or not - so far, unhappiness about Russia's new ruling class has been expressed only by the country's beleaguered liberal minority.

Profile: Russia's secret police
21 Nov 06 |  Europe
Putin's hold on the Russians
30 Jun 06 |  Europe

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific