Russian defense minister reappears after suddenly disappearing on March 11

Sergei Shoigu, who disappeared from the public eye on March 11, was briefly seen in a Security Council meeting. "He has a lot on his plate," a Kremlin official said.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin meets with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow, Russia, January 13, 2022. (photo credit: SPUTNIK/ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin meets with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow, Russia, January 13, 2022.
(photo credit: SPUTNIK/ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS)

Russia's defense minister resurfaced briefly on Thursday after having allegedly suffered a heart attack.

Sergei Shoigu, close ally of President Vladimir Putin and the overseer of Russia's so-called "special military operation" who had not been seen in public since March 11, was briefly seen in Russia's Security Council meeting via Zoom. 

Shoigu's disappearance from the public's eye created many rumors and speculations. The official Kremlin spokesperson said that he has not appeared in any public or official events since mid-March because he had suffered from a heart attack.

During the council meeting, Russia's state-owned news agency RIA made a point of zooming in on Shoigu in the top left-hand corner of a video screen set in front of Putin. The clip did not contain audio and did not show the foreign minister speaking. This also raised speculations and rumors about Shoigu's safety in the Kremlin, his health and his whereabouts. 

Acting as defense minister since 2012, the 66-year-old Shoigu was often marked as Putin's potential successor in the Kremlin. There are several pictures of them doing things together such as fishing. Shoigu's political career began after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990's, when he served as the head of the Emergencies Ministry.

 Russian President Vladimir Putin (C), Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visit the Hmeymim air base in Latakia Province, Syria December 11, 2017 (credit: SPUTNIK/MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS) Russian President Vladimir Putin (C), Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visit the Hmeymim air base in Latakia Province, Syria December 11, 2017 (credit: SPUTNIK/MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS)
 

Shoigu is one of the founders of Russia's largest political party, "United Russia," which holds the majority in the state Duma (the Russian Parliament). The party is regarded as a supporter of Putin's policies, and had voted in favor of his presidency in three of the last four elections.