His (Sergey Shoigu's) first name is quintessentially Russian, but he hails from Tuva, an impoverished province of Turkic-speaking Buddhists that borders northwestern China and has some of Russia's highest murder and suicide rates.
Some Tuvan intellectuals even consider him a reincarnation of Subedei, a Mongol general whose army laid waste to what is now Russia and Ukraine eight centuries ago.
Shoigu started his career in the early 1990s as head of the emergencies ministry, making it a highly effective, militarized structure – and topping all political charts years before Putin became president.
The 66-year-old Shoigu is often seen on TV fishing and hunting with Putin – a symbolic anointment that some say makes him the most likely successor.
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