Vladislav Surkov on "Putin's long state"

Denys Kolesnyk 3 min read February 17, 2019 485 words

A few days ago, Vladislav Surkov, the man behind the “power vertical” and “sovereign democracy” concept of Vladimir Putin’s first presidential term, published an opinion piece entitled “Putin’s long state”. In his article, he sets out his views on several topics, including elections, the Russian state, international relations, and other issues.

He explains that “Putin’s political machine” is only getting bigger, and predicts that within several years Russia will remain “Putin’s state”. He goes even further, referring to “Putinism” as an ideology of the future. According to him, the Russian political system is not only useful for his country’s future but “clearly has significant export potential”.

In his article, he also discusses the Turkish notion of derin devlet, also known as the “deep state”. He points out that in Russia there is no such thing as a “deep state”, but rather a “deep people”. I find this a bit exaggerated on his part, given that Russia is run by the “Putin system”, which is in itself a symbiosis of the “siloviki” (police, army, and intelligence services) and the oligarchy. Indeed, towards the end of his article, he underlines the importance of these “siloviki” in the Russian state apparatus, declaring that “the state military-police functions are principal and decisive”.

A rather interesting passage is devoted to the difference between Western and Russian institutions. When I talk about this difference, I’d like to warn Westerners that, despite the same apparent facade, the way institutions work in Russia is different. I like to use the term “Potemkin Village” because behind the façade there’s something else. As for Sourkov, he explains that Russia has adopted Western institutions and sees them more as a necessary rite in order to “look like others”, and to make sure that “the differences in our political culture are not very visible to our neighbors so that they don’t irritate or frighten them”.

Another unavoidable element in this article is that Putin is referred to as the “supreme leader”. It is something that dates back to the USSR, fascist Italy or Nazi Germany, or North Korea, of course.

Reading this far, one should ask himself: what does this have to do with Information Warfare? So, it would be good to ponder on this quote from his article:

Foreign politicians attribute Russia’s interference in elections and referendums all over the planet. In reality, the matter is even more serious - Russia is interfering in their brains, and they do not know what to do with their own altered consciousness. Ever since, after the failed 1990s, our country refused ideological loans, began to produce meanings on its own, and launched an information counteroffensive against the West, European and American experts have become increasingly wrong in their forecasts. They are surprised and infuriated by the paranormal preferences of the electorate. Confused, they announced the invasion of populism. You can say that too if there are no [other] words.