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Cynicism And Belief

The rights of the siloviki, however, have nothing to do with the formal kind that are spelled out in laws or in the constitution. What they are claiming is a special mission to restore the power of the state, save Russia from disintegration and frustrate the enemies that might weaken it. Such idealistic sentiments, says Mr Kondaurov, coexist with an opportunistic and cynical eagerness to seize the situation for personal or institutional gain. ~The Economist

This is what accounts of a resurgent Russia often miss, as I have argued before.  Whether it is self-justification and rationalisation or genuine conviction, or some measure of both, Putin and the siloviki are both keenly interested in gaining and expanding their power and in achieving their goals of restoring what they see as Russia’s proper place in the world.  They are nationalists because they are power-hungry, but to some extent they are also interested in power for themselves because they believe, for good or ill, that they can restore national power.  Dismissing any of them as cynical and greedy misses the point: they are cynical and greedy because they are ideologues, and they probably think their “correct” beliefs entitle them to rewards.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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