Financial crime investigator Viktor Zubkov was little known outside, or even inside Russia before Vladimir Putin nominated him for the post of prime minister.
Mr Zubkov once ran collective farms
Speculation was rife that President Putin was about to replace Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, but as the Russian news website, newsru.com, put it: "Not a single politician, expert or political analyst forecast it would be Viktor Zubkov".
The people most likely to know of Mr Zubkov's existence, were the country's "oligarchs".
Since 2001, he has been the head of Russia's Federal Financial Monitoring Service in 2001, a body dedicated to rooting out money-laundering operations.
As such, he has been one of Mr Putin's key allies in the battle to control Russia's oligarchs, the powerful magnates who had made their fortunes during the market free-for-all which typified the era of Boris Yeltsin.
The two men first worked together in the city administration of the president's native city, St Petersburg, in the 1990s.
From 1991 to 1993, Mr Zubkov was deputy chairman of St Petersburg's committee on external relations, while Mr Putin was chairman.
The collective farm years
Born on 15 September 1941 in the village of Arbat, in the southern Urals region of Sverdlovsk, Mr Zubkov studied agriculture in 1960s Leningrad, as St Petersburg was then known.
After that, he ran collective farms in the Leningrad region, and, later, began working his way up through the regional Communist Party.
1941: Born in Arbat village, Sverdlovsk region
1965: Graduates from Leningrad Agricultural Institute in economics
1967-1985: Works on collective farms in Leningrad regions
1985-1991: Works in regional administration
1991-1993: Works with Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg city administration
1993-2000: Works for federal tax service and tax ministry
From 2001: Head of financial monitoring service
In the post-Soviet 1990s he became St Petersburg's deputy chief tax inspector, after his work with Mr Putin on the external relations committee.
He was defeated in a bid to be elected governor of Leningrad Region in 1999, but then joined the federal government in Moscow as deputy tax minister.
The Russian news website lenta.ru writes that ordinary Russians are most likely to associate Viktor Zubkov with the banking crisis of 2004, which was sparked by his announcement that licences could be withdrawn from some banks.
Political pundits commenting on the nomination after the event have tended to focus on why more obvious candidates for PM were ignored, rather than the reasons for Mr Zubkov's success.
Mr Zubkov's other St Petersburg connections include the marriage of his daughter to the current Defence Minister, Anatoly Serdyukov - whose own appointment by Mr Putin this February also took many by surprise.
His nomination for the premiership came a few days before his 66th birthday.