“Obviously, the Federal Security Service (FSB) is the core organization,” economist Andrei Illarionov said. “However, it is not the only one. There are plenty of secret services and law enforcement agencies here. Some of these people are their former employees. As a result, some kind of united group has emerged.”
Political analysts have been saying for quite some time that power in Russia very clearly is not concentrated in the hands of one person. This opinion is not surprising for anyone who understands the logic of the ongoing processes in the country and is well aware of the physical impossibility to put this large-scale set of important resolutions on Vladimir Putin’s shoulders alone.
In the context of this understanding, experts have long argued about who owns the key levers of influence and decision-making in Russia. Some believe that the security and law enforcement agencies have long maintained control over the main processes in the country, while others accuse certain “liberal clans in power” of not only pursuing their petty interests but also of playing against the interests of Russia and its people. The theory that the entire power has been taken over by Vladimir Putin personally also remains popular. According to its advocates, he has distributed powers, responsibilities, zones of influence, and decision-making centers exclusively among the individuals from his inner circle.
However, recently, some alternative theories have surfaced. One of them was voiced by Andrei Illarionov, a well-known Russian economist, politician, and public figure. To his thinking, at the moment, power in Russia belongs to a certain corporation which he himself calls the Corporation of Secret Service Officers (CSSO.) Illarionov believes that Vladimir Putin’s role is only similar to that of an agent. He underlines that in most cases, Putin makes decisions aimed specifically to serve the interests of the ruling corporation.
"Corporation of Secret Service Officers"
"If we can identify any interests, and if we can find and analyze them in terms of specific actions, we will see that they are related to the interests of specific people who are primarily in power,” Illarionov said. “So, when we say 'Russia' it is not quite correct. We might say – power-wielders, the Kremlin, and the ruling group. It all depends on the terminology and the situation. Since we are talking about this, we need to understand who really rules Russia today. If we are talking about a group of people or a faction we mean a party in the broad sense of the word but not a political one. If we are talking about a ruling group, at the moment, a single organization is running Russia and I can call it the Corporation of Special Service Officers.
“That doesn't mean that other people have no influence on the government or on decision-making. However, if we look at the key and most fundamental decisions the government makes, the things that money is spent on in general, and in whose favor the domestic and foreign policies are implemented, it will be a corporation of a certain number of people. Many of them still serve in security and intelligence agencies. There are not just one or two agencies of this kind in Russia. As it turned out, there are about 20 of them. One can say Russia has set a record in this regard. Obviously, the FSB is the core organization. However, it is not the only one. There are plenty of security services and law enforcement agencies here. Some of these people are their former employees. As a result, some kind of a united group has emerged.”
Putin is Just Agent
“Of course, this group has a figurehead who plays the role of a spokesperson. And there is a main agent. This is the well-known Vladimir Putin. So, he plays only the role of the agent. Some of his interests coincide with the interests of this corporation. So, he works for them. In addition, there are interests that are “perpendicular.” They do not coincide and do not interfere. There are also interests that are contrary to those of the corporation. It should be said that in many cases, Putin acts in the interests of the corporation, sometimes he acts outside the interests of the corporation, and sometime, although seldom enough, against the interests of the corporation.
“Our country is not a democracy. Accordingly, decision-making does not take place through seeking consensus even within the inner circle of people involved in decision-making. It can be done quite often by one person in Russia. Including the situations where other members of the corporation are against it.”