Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu could succeed Putin as leader of Russia, leaked FSB document

Sergei Shoigu is Vladimir Putin’s right-hand man, serving as Russia’s Minister of Defense. A military officer that has always been beside his leader, he shares Putin’s vision that Russia has to regain its lost imperial greatness.

Sergei Kuzhugetovich Shoigu was born on May 21, 1955, in the city of Chadan, located in the Tuva Autonomous Oblast, over 3,000 miles from Moscow on the border with Mongolia. His parents were Kuzhuget Shoigu, editor of a local newspaper, and Alexandra Kudryavtseva.

Kuzhuget Sereevich Shoigu, besides working as the editor of a Tuvan language newspaper, also ascended the ranks of the local Communist Party and eventually became the secretary of the Regional Committee.

Fun bit of trivia: Shoigu was really his father’s given name and Kuzhuget was the actual family name. A local passport officer mixed them up and the family never felt the need to change it. Sergei Shoigu was also baptized in the Christian Orthodox faith, despite growing up in the middle of the Soviet era and belonging to a family with clout in the local Communist Party.

Religion seems to still play an important part in his life, with Shoigu seen doing the sign of the cross in public several times.

Meanwhile, Sergei Kuzhugetovich has Ukrainian roots from his mother’s side.

The future Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation got a degree in civil engineering from Krasnoyarsk Polytechnic Institute in 1977. Shoigu worked in the engineering field for over a decade, almost invariably in managerial positions. He entered politics in 1988.

Shoigu moved to Moscow in 1990 and was appointed Deputy Chief of State Architecture and Construction Committee of the Russian Federation.

In 1991, he became head of the State Committee of Emergencies, which later transformed into the Ministry of Emergency Situations. From 1994 to 2012 he served as Minister of the Russian Federation for Civil Defense, Emergency Situations, and the Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters.

Experts point out that Shoigu and Putin are the only two Russian politicians that have constantly remained at the highest level of government since the 1990s.

Shoigu has always remained loyal to Putin. Some experts agree that he’s possibly his closest friend, the man he goes to Siberia with for the holidays and shares long walks in the forest.

From May to November 2012 Sergei Shoigu took over the position of governor of the Moscow Oblast. On November 6, 2022, he became Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation by presidential decree, replacing Anatoly Serdyukov.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev recommended him for the position, according to Medvedev’s press attaché Natalya Timakova.

Sergei Kuzhugetovich was reappointed again to the position of Minister of Defense in 2018 and 2020. Plus, he was included in the United Russia party elections list in 2021 per Putin’s suggestion.

According to Sergei Shoigu, military service creates a “moral core”, though strangely enough he never served in the Armed Forces despite being Minister of Defense and having the rank of Army General. How did he get there?

As Minister of Defense, he had to command Putin’s military campaigns: from the annexation of Crimea to the Syrian Civil War. His leading role is limited, always overshadowed by Putin himself.

Through his years of service, Sergei Shoigu has collected a hefty number of awards. These include Hero of the Russian Federation, Order of St. Andrew with swords, Order of Merit for the Fatherland, and the Medal “For the return of Crimea”.

Some analysts of Russian politics have speculated that there’s a chance that Sergei Shoigu might replace Vladimir Putin someday as leader of Russia. Although Shoigu has always enjoyed being extremely popular, it doesn’t seem likely that Putin will step down anytime soon.

Of course, Shoigu’s rise to power probably won’t bring any major changes to Russia’s foreign policy. That’s something many, including Ukrainians, believe without any doubt.

Sergei Shoigu was named, along with 10 other Russian generals, in a 2016 wanted list from the Ukrainian Prosecution for crimes against that country’s national security, according to the website

The Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation was included among those sanctioned by Ukraine in 2014. In February 2022, after Russia recognized the statehood of Donetsk and Luhansk, Shoigu was subject to more sanctions from the United States and the European Union.

In 2021, the Security Service of Ukraine demanded Shoigu to appear in court as a suspect of helping create “illegal armed groups” in the country. The minister ignored these accusations. Sergei Shigu enjoys hunting as a distraction to his military and political life. On more than a few occasions he has tagged along with Putin on vacations.

Shogu also enjoys doing sculptures with tree roots in his spare time. Not many people know that at the Aldan Maadyr National Museum, located in Kyzyl, capital of Tuya, there’s an exhibition that showcases the work of the Minister of Defense.

Besides the previously mentioned sculptures done with Tuvan cedar roots, RIA Novosti reports that the museum includes “oil paintings and graphics” done by him.

Just like his friend Putin, Sergei Shoigu is a big follower of hockey and football. He has played in amateur games with other politicians and veteran athletes. The minister is also a big fan of the Spartak Moscow Football Club.

Sergei Shoigu is married to Irina Shoigu and has two daughters: Yulia and Ksenia (pictured). On September 17, 2021, the Minister of Defense became grandfather. His youngest daughter had a girl named Milana.

Although Sergei and Irina Shoigu don’t like to share details from their personal life, his daughters have followed his path into politics.

Julia, the oldest, is a career psychologist who works as director of the Psychological Assistance Center of the Russian Ministry of Emergencies. Ksenia (pictured here) is a public servant in the field of sports in the Putin administration.

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