‘Loyalty alone is not sufficient’: Kremlin reveals the qualities Russia’s Vladimir Putin values the most

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council assembly through a video hyperlink in Saint Petersburg on October 10, 2022.

Gavriil Grigorov | Afp | Getty Images

President Vladimir Putin is identified to maintain a loyal cadre of officers and aides near him, with the majority of his inner-circle having served the Russian chief for a few years throughout his 23 years in energy.

Putin has made no bones of his expectations of absolute loyalty from these closest to him. Once requested in a wide-ranging 2018 interview whether or not he was in a position to forgive individuals after they made errors, Putin replied saying, “Yes. But not all the pieces.” When pressed by journalist Andrei Kondrashov to elaborate on what he might not forgive, Putin’s response was emphatic: “Betrayal.”

For those that have labored with the president for greater than 20 years, it is no shock that Putin values and calls for loyalty amongst his inner-circle, lots of whom he has saved shut since he rose up the ranks in Russia’s Soviet safety service, the KGB, earlier than his ascendency to the presidency in late 1999.

“Neither in our nation nor overseas have I seen bosses who preserve disloyal individuals round them,” Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary, instructed CNBC Tuesday.

“But for Vladimir Putin, loyalty alone is not sufficient. Three qualities are wanted: 1. Professionalism, 2. Efficiency, 3. Loyalty,” he added in emailed feedback.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin (R) and his spokesman Dmitry Peskov (L) attend the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council assembly at the Congress Hall in Bishkek on December 9, 2022.

Vyacheslav Oseledko | Afp | Getty Images

Peskov, a high Kremlin official and seen as a member of Putin’s inner-circle, has been press secretary for 23 years. Likewise, most of the individuals inside Putin’s inner-circle — made up of his closest ministers and confidants and also known as “Siloviki” (or “individuals of power”) referring to senior officers which have backgrounds in the army or safety providers — have largely served the Russian chief for years, overseeing the silencing of opposition figures and movements that have challenged him.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has been in publish since 2004 whereas Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has held his place since 2012, having beforehand been thought-about as a possible management candidate himself.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L), Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) and Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev (L) seen throughout the SCTO Summit, on November 23, 2022 in Yerevan, Armenia.

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Putin’s inner-circle additionally contains Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, in addition to the heads of Russia’s state safety providers, the FSB, and its overseas intelligence counterpart, the SVR. There’s additionally the extra ideologically influential propagandists akin to Vladimir Solovyov and Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of the Russian Security Council.

The council’s deputy is nationalist Dmitry Medvedev, who additionally served as Russia’s former prime minister and president as much as 2012, alternating with Putin. Medvedev was all the time subservient to Putin in both position however he stays near the president and is a vocal supporter of Russia’s warfare towards Ukraine, and ideological enmity with the West.

Russian analysts are not satisfied that qualities akin to competency and loyalty are valued equally in the Kremlin, with Russian scholar, historian and writer Sergei Medvedev noting that “loyalty has all the time been extra vital than competency” in Russia.

“Russia is not like an efficiency-oriented, competency-oriented meritocracy,” Medvedev, writer of “A War Made in Russia” and “The Return of the Russian Leviathan,” famous.

“It’s a really archaic and medieval — and in some sense, Byzantine [excessively complicated] — system of non-public loyalty, and Putin will preserve anybody — even the most inefficient managers like ex-president [Dmitry] Medvedev, for example, so long as they present their loyalty,” Medvedev instructed CNBC.

Blind spots

An attachment to loyalty can result in blind spots, analysts word, most not too long ago seen in the ill-fated invasion of Ukraine and the rise of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s energy, standing and affect earlier than his fall from grace.

When Russia first launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, analysts stated it was doubtless that Putin had been instructed by his closest army officers that the invasion can be easy, and Ukraine can be conquered simply earlier than a pro-Russian authorities was put in in Kyiv.

But inside the first few weeks of the warfare it grew to become obvious that Ukraine was mounting way more resistance, and its allies way more assist for Kyiv, than had been anticipated in Russia.

A serviceman of pro-Russian militia walks nest to a army convoy of armed forces of the separatist self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) on a highway in the Luhansk area, Ukraine February 27, 2022.

Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) talks to Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu (R) throughout the annual Navy Day Parade on July 30, 2023, in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

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During Russia’s “particular army operation” in Ukraine, because it calls its invasion, questions have been raised about the technique and competency of Russia’s army management. Shoigu has been brazenly ridiculed and criticized by a bit of army bloggers in Russia, significantly these loyal to Prigozhin, the convict-turned-businessman-turned-paramilitary chief of the Wagner Group of mercenaries who additionally loved Putin’s favor.

When the high-profile acrimony between Prigozhin and the protection ministry descended into open rebel in the summer season, nonetheless, Putin ultimately sided with his long-serving and proven loyal defense minister and endorsed the ministry’s edict that Wagner Group fighters must signal contracts with the ministry.

Kirill Shamiev, a Russian political scientist and a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, instructed CNBC that loyalty is “a really key asset in authoritarian settings, since you develop this belief over the years. And if an individual proves their belief in a warfare setting, this is essential for an authoritarian chief.”

The rise and fall of Prigozhin

FILE – Businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, left, reveals Russian President Vladimir Putin, round his manufacturing facility which produces faculty meals, outdoors St. Petersburg, Russia on Monday, Sept. 20, 2010.

Alexei Druzhinin | AP

Prigozhin reportedly pledged his loyalty to Putin in a face-to-face assembly following the rebel however analysts stated his destiny was sealed when he brazenly challenged the state and, finally, Putin himself.

“I believe it was a robust message to the elite that Putin is in management,” Sergei Medvedev famous, saying the president “meticulously waited for these couple of months earlier than executing his revenge.”

A determine like Prigozhin — seen as an anomaly given his shut alliance with Putin however casual and combative relationship with state establishments — will not be allowed to emerge once more, they word:

“I’m fairly positive the Kremlin won’t ever, ever once more let anybody create this army energy Prigozhin had — or the social or political media affect Prigozhin used to have,” Shamiev stated.

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