Long Soviet Shadows: The Nomenklatura Ties of Putin Elites
28 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2022
Date Written: November 19, 2021
In recent years, studies of Putin-era elites have focused primarily on the role of siloviki in Russia’s ruling class. In this paper, we propose to bring the focus back on the analysis of the elite continuity within the Soviet regime. By compiling a dataset of the elites in the late Putin regime, we explore their ties to the Soviet class of political managers. We track their professional, family, and educational backgrounds to discover that the percentage of Putin-regime elites with Soviet nomenklatura origin constitutes approximately 60% of the elites whom we identify through positional and reputational approaches. The majority of the Putin-regime elites have ties in the middle and lower, rather than the top, ranks of nomenklatura. We also find that the share of those with nomenklatura backgrounds in Putin-era elites in 2010 and 2020 is significantly higher than the share of siloviki. These results reflect a noticeable continuity between the Soviet-era and Putin-regime elites thirty years after the collapse of the Soviet system. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for the analysis of Putin’s Russia. This often-ignored characteristic helps deepen our understanding of the continuity between the Soviet and Putin systems such as the adoption of similar governing structures, reproduction of repressive trends, as well as the regime’s increased reliance on clientelist patronage networks as a basis for career mobility.
Keywords: Putin's Russia, elites, siloviki, nomenklatura, post-Soviet
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation