“A society cannot be called civil if more than half of State servants wear a military uniform,” said Russian ombudsman Oleg Mironov at the recent Civic Forum. He explained that not just the army wears military gear, but so too does the tax police, the prosecutor’s office, and many other organizations that society calls force structures, not law enforcement structures.
The very content and style of Putin’s “federal” reform, which began immediately after the president’s inauguration, as well as the specific order of steps that have been made, show that Putin’s reform is directed primarily at strengthening control by the police over the society. Although regional governors appeared to be Putin’s immediate target in his reform efforts, thinking that the whole reform process was aimed at weakening them would be a mistake. Missing the bigger picture would be an even greater mistake: that there is an institutional weakening of society is underway, taking place under slogans of the fight against deviations from federal law in the regions and of the restoration of vertical structures of federal power. […]