Kremlinology is back in vogue and I have noticed recently that people have become quite interested in Russia’s Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu.
One thing that has struck me is that nobody has noted that Shoigu is nomenklatura. In a system where these connections matter, I find this surprising.
For the record, Sergei Shoigu’s parents were both Communist Party officials in the Republic of Tuva. His father, Kuzhuget, held the position of Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Tuva ASSR, and allegedly a close friend of Boris Yeltsin. His mother, Alexandra, held the position of deputy of the Regional Council of the Tuva People’s Deputies for many years.
In addition, Shoigu’s sister, Larisa, is a Duma Deputy.
The position of Defence Minister is merely an administrative position in Russia. This is not to deny the importance of the post, particularly in time of war, but to clarify what is happening. I very much doubt that Shoigu is the person drawing up plans or even ordering troop movement.
This is not to say his position is a sinecure one. Shoigu is clearly trusted and his loyalty has never been called into question as far as I am aware. There have also been rumors that he has managed to maintain some control of his former deputies at the Emergency Services Ministry. Something that seems likely given the fact that he held that post since its creation in 1991. Shoigu held the same position, though it went through several name changes before landing on its current one in 1994.
However, none of these things make him a contender for President of Russia. And in the end, as Stanislav Belkovsky pointed out, Shoigu is not Russian. And this is the main argument against Shoigu.