Ivan Golunov at the Nikitinsky Regional Court.

The Golunov Case Exposes Russia’s ‘Submerged State’

June 13, 2019
Alexey Yeremenko
This is a summary of an article originally published by The Moscow Times with the subheading:  "Businesses and foreign investors would do well to remember that even Putin’s brightest plans can be derailed by a single official far down the chain of command."

The author argues that the arrest of journalist Ivan Golunov shows the power and nature of the “submerged state” in Russia. The arrest was allegedly organized by individuals who formed part of the large system of “low level [governmental] actors who pay lip service to the ‘outer state,’ but definitely have their own agenda.” Specifically, Golunov’s case illustrates the extent to which the goals of this “‘submerged state’ [are] out of sync with the ‘visible state.’”  The ‘submerged state’ is exceptionally difficult to examine, the lower levels of government being “more opaque than the innermost corridors of the Kremlin.” Despite this, it is the level of government most often interacted with by investors and is capable of derailing the policies of the ‘outer state.’ Ultimately, even if mass mobilization were capable of toppling the ‘outer state,’ the ‘submerged state’ would remain. Only the public would be capable of reining in these networks of low-level actors, and this, the author warns, would be “a decades-spanning job.”

Read the full article at The Moscow Times.


Alexey Yeremenko

Alexey Yeremenko is an associate at Control Risks. 

Photo by Yevgenii Fel'dman shared under CC BY 4.0.