Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev, and his prime minister, Vladimir Putin, apparently cannot agree on one question—which of them will be running for the Russian presidency in March 2012. As it has in earlier contests over leadership, the country’s all-powerful Federal Security Service (FSB) is bound to have a crucial part in that decision. During his leadership, Putin gave friends from the security services key positions in the Kremlin and in state corporations, thus creating a new power base of officials—commonly referred to as the siloviki (“strong men”), with loyalties to the security services and to Putin himself. By the year 2007 two thirds of the members of the president’s administration were siloviki. Can Medvedev afford at this point to take on the FSB if he wants a second presidential term?
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