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Sergei Shoigu

On 06 November 2012 recently re-elected President Vladimir Putin relieved Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov of his duties, and appointed Sergei Shoigu as his replacement. The former Emergencies Minister had become leader of the Kremlin-backed Unity bloc, created in September 1999 to contest the December 1999 elections. Nine times world wrestling champion, he built up a good reputation, but his control over members of his party was thought to be weak.

President Putin met on 18 May 2018 with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who confirmed to Putin the line up of Russia's new government. One prominent casualty was Dmitry Rogozin, the flamboyant former Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the defence industries. He was replaced by Yury Borisov, a Soviet trained engineer and technocrat with a long career of service in the Soviet and Russian militaries. Borisov was previously Defence Minister Shoigu's deputy in the Defence Ministry. Borisov was seen as Shoigu's ally, in which case his appointment in place of the independent minded Rogozin consolidated Shoigu's leadership of the Russian defence establishment.

"Taking into consideration the situation that has emerged regarding the Defense Ministry, in order to create the requisite conditions for an objective investigation of all the issues, I made the decision to relieve Defense Minister Serdyukov of his duties," Putin said. Russia's Defense Ministry had recently become embroiled in a scandal over alleged real estate scams involving nearly $100 million run by state defense firm Oboronservis. It should be stressed that Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev implicitly supported the major part of the Minister of Defence initiatives (especially for selling underutilized land) as early as in February-March of 2008.

Shoigu, then 57 years of age, most recently served as Moscow Region governor, and before that headed Russia's Emergencies Ministry since 1994, where he consistently enjoyed some of the highest approval ratings among cabinet ministers. A four-star army general, his appointment was welcomed by the military.

Shoigu is a native of the Buddhist majority republic of Tuva, just north Mongolia. Sergei Kuzhugetovich Shoigu was born 21 May 1955 in Chadan, in the Tuvan ASSR (now – the Republic of Tyva). He has two daughters and is by seme reports the only Buddhist in the Russian government. By other reprots, while not openly religious, he claims to be a believer, stating that he was baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church when he was a child.

His father served as a local party official, and as a son of the regional elite, Sergey understood that to move up the ranks, he had to play by the party rules. Shoygu was trained as an engineer and quickly promoted within the local party structure, working as an engineer and party representative in one of the major regional factories.

Shoigu graduated from the Krasnoyarsk Polytechnic Institute in 1977, majoring in construction engineering. He later received a PhD in economics. In 1979 he joined the Achinskaluminiystroi Trust, where he rose from construction supervisor to director over the next five years. In 1977–1978 he served as the foreman of the "Promkhimstroy" Trust (the city of Krasnoyarsk), in 1978–1979, as the foreman, supervising foreman of the "Tuvinstroy" Trust (the city of Kyzyl). In 1979–1984 he was the general foreman, chief engineer, chief of the “Achinskaluminystroy” Construction Trust (the city of Achinsk).

In 1984–1985 he served as the Deputy Manager of the “Sayanaluminstroy” Trust (the city of Sayanogorsk). In 1985–1986 he served as the Manager of the "Sayantyazhstroy" Trust (the city of Abakan). In 1986–1988 he served as the Manager of the "Abakanvagonstroy" Trust (the city of Abakan).

He was elected deputy head of the local Communist Party in Abakan, before being named an inspector for the Kranoyarsk territory branch of the party. There were reports that his father was acquainted with Sverdlovsk party officials (then led by Boris N. Yeltsin). His marriage to the daughter of a regional party official may have also helped advance his career. In 1988–1989 he was the Second Secretary of the Abakan City Committee of the CPSU. In 1989–1990 he was the Inspector of the Krasnoyarsk Territory Committee of the CPSU.

Shoygu was trained as an engineer in the Soviet system and arrived in Moscow just as the USSR began to fall apart. In 1990, Shoigu moved to Moscow and was appointed deputy head of Russia’s State Committee for Architecture and Construction.It made sense to create a new organization to handle internal disasters, which would be both technically proficient and loyal to the new government. From 1991 Shoygu was the Chairman of the Russian Corps of Rescuers. From 1991 he was the Chairman of the RSFSR State Committee for Emergencies. In 1991–1994 he was the Chairman of the RF State Committee for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters.

Shoigu was appointed emergencies minister in 1994. He was co-chairman of the United Russia political party and had been a member of the Security Council since 1994.

From 1994 to 2012 Shoygu was the Minister of the Russian Federation for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters (from 10.01.2000 till 07.05 2000 – the Deputy RF Prime Minister – Emergency Situations Minister of Russia). Shoygu and his EMERCOM forces were the visual proof that the Kremlin leadership was doing everything possible to alleviate the suffering of the Russian people.

For more than 20 years, as the Minister of Emergency Services, he served as Russia’s ‘first responder.’ In this capacity, Shoygu helped to deal with natural and man-made disasters, gaining an intimate knowledge of the country’s domestic challenges and the reputation of a pragmatic and effective leader. As a resourceful minister and politician, he also profited from his proximity to the Kremlin elite, strengthening regional and national ties and developing sharp survival skills to ensure his official longevity.

As opposed to the corruption and incompetence in most other branches of the Russian government, the Ministry of Civil Defense, Emergencies and Natural Disasters (EMERCOM) gained a professional and (relatively) honest reputation.

In 1999 he became chief of the Unity party, which supported Vladimir Putin's 2000 presidential bid. In December 2001 he became a co-chairman of United Russia, which merged the Unity, Fatherland and All Russia parties. Boris Gryzlov was named party chief. Unity came second in the December 1999 parliamentary elections, winning 72 seats. In December 2001, merged with Fatherland and All-Russia to become the UF-UR; centrist, reformist. Also known as the All-Russian Party, it formed a pro-Putin bloc that dominated the Duma.

In July-August 2010 Shoigu and the Emergency Situations Ministry came under intense public criticism for failing to quickly control forest and peat-bog fires caused by a record heat wave and drought in Western Russia. Fifty died and thousands were left homeless in the forest fires, which burned more than a million hectares and together with peat-bog fires covered major cities, including Moscow, in toxic smog. Shoigu estimated the damage at 12 billion rubles, while some experts put the figure at 450 billion rubles. He argued that because the Forest Code did not specify which body was responsible for putting out forest fires, the Emergency Situations Ministry should not shoulder the blame.

From 11 May 2012 he was the Governor of the Moscow Region. Putin had just returned to the presidency for his third term, and there was conjecture among some Kremlinologists that Shoygu’s move as the Moscow regional governor might be a stepping stone to Russia’s highest political office.

The Russian president turned to his close ally Sergei Shoigu, former Emergencies Minister, after the Defence Minister was engulfed in a corruption scandal. By the RF Presidential Decree of 6 November 2012 he was appointed the Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation.

Shoigu would have to decide between maintaining large conventional forces, or pursuing Serdyukov’s goal of creating leaner, more modern armed forces. Shoigu fired General Staff chief Nikolai Makarov, a Serdyukov ally, and replaced him with Valery Gerasimov, an opponent of the Serdyukov reforms.

The person who is generally seen as a general is in reality an ordinary party worker who never served in the army, beyond a lieutenant in the reserves. Shoigu received his general’s ranks while serving as minister at the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations. In 1999 for his work he was awarded the highest Russian award, Hero of the Russian Federation, and was promoted to colonel general. In May 2003, Shoigu was promoted to the military rank of General of the Army by Vladimir Putin, and collected many other honorary titles including the Order of St Andrew the Apostle.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu started the fulfillment of his new duties, the ministry reported November 7, 2012. "The Russian president has restored Sergei Shoigu in military service in the rank of a general of the army". Shoigu was the first defence minister in more than a decade to hold the rank of general. Putin revived the practice of giving the Minister of Defence the title of General, dropped in 2007 with Serdyukov’s appointment. Serdyukov’s predecessor at the MOD, Sergey Ivanov, also proudly wore the general’s stars he earned in the FSB, and saw himself as an officer, as does retired KGB Major Vladimir Putin.

The RF Security Council’s Permanent Member (RF Presidential Decree # 715 of 25 May 2012 as amended by RF Presidential Decree # 1487 of 6 Nov. 2012). The National Counterterrorist Committee’s Member (ex officio) (RF Presidential Decree # 1222 of 8 Oct. 2010). Member of the Interdepartmental Commission on Countering Extremism in the Russian Federation (ex officio) (RF Presidential Decree # 988 of 26 July 2011). Deputy Head of the RF President’s Interdepartmental Working Group for controlling implementation of the State Defence Order and the State Armaments Programme (RF Presidential Executive Order # 472-rp of 16 Oct. 2012 as amended by RF Presidential Executive Order # 498-rp of 6 Nov. 2012).

Shoigu was seen as one of Russia's most talented administrators who lately occupied the post of governor of Moscow region. 'Taking into consideration the situation around the Defence Ministry I have made a decision to relieve defence minister Serdyukov of his post in order to create conditions for an objective investigation of all the issues,' said Putin at a televised meeting 06 November 2012 with Shoigu.

Shoigu is seen as a close and trusted friend of Putin who served with distinction as Emergency Situations Minister from 1994 to 2012, a role that regularly saw him on television dealing with a succession of emergencies.

State awards: Hero of the Russian Federation, Commendations from the President (1993 and 1999), Certificate of Merit from the Government (2000), Order of Service to the Fatherland, 3rd Class, (2005), and Commendation from the Government (2005), et al. Merited Rescuer of the Russian Federation (2005).

Significant changes included modifying the brigade structure to accommodate historical traditions (e.g., retaining the division title for the Tamanskaya and Kantemirovskaya guards divisions), increasing the number of active military airbases, reinstating elements of the former officer education system, the restoration of warrant officer positions, increasing the annual expenditure of training ammunition, and discussions regarding both the creation of a Special Operations command and a centralized command and control facility. Contract soldiers and officers saw significant increases to their salaries. While still relying on conscripts for manpower, there was a growing realization (advocated by Shoygu) that Russia needed to create a professional military.

Defense industry officials continued to produce and sell equipment that the military is sometimes reluctant to accept.

By 2015 dissatisfaction with Putin among Russia’s oligarchs was growing, as their business was suffering. Andrey Okara, director of the Moscow Center for East European Research, said “in Putin’s entourage,” there are people who today “are quietly searching” for a successor, with the names of Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin being the most often mentioned. “But for the time being there are no alternatives to Putin” in fact.

While Shoygu has avoided the taint of personal corruption, there have been various allegations that as EMERCOM minister he was involved in some questionable operations. A team led by Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny regularly posted exposes alleging corruption among members of the elite. Navalny's expose alleged that Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has been hiding a home worth an estimated at $18 million by putting it in the name of his relatives. The house in question is located in the same luxurious Moscow suburb where Putin has his official residence.

The level of trust in Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reaches 88%, reported on 18 February 2016 by the chairman of the Board of the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) Konstantin Abramov. "The approval of the Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation Sergey Shoigu activities and trust him are extremely high - 84% and 88% respectively", - he said. The level of confidence in the army of Russians is 82%, said Abramov. These data were obtained in a study conducted in the autumn of 2015, he said.




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