The Russian minister for emergency situations has died during training drills in the Arctic, Moscow said on Wednesday.
Yevgeny Zinichev — who was a former close protection officer of President Vladimir Putin — died while saving another person, his ministry said in a statement to Russian news agencies
“[He] tragically died performing his official duty during inter-departmental exercises to protect the Arctic zone from emergency situations, while saving a person’s life,” the statement read.
“The ministry deeply mourns the tragic death of minister Evgeny Nikolaevich Zinichev,” a statement added.
Zinichev had been on a working visit to the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk. On Tuesday, he opened large-scale drills spanning seven regions in the Russian Arctic that were scheduled to last through Wednesday.
In a press release earlier on Wednesday, the ministry said the 55-year-old had been inspecting the construction progress of a new fire station in Norilsk.
No further details have been released about the incident.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told news agencies that President Putin had been informed of the accident.
The Russian emergencies ministry has told the Associated Press that Zinichev was trying to save the prominent film director Alexander Melnik, without elaborating.
Meanwhile, according to the editor-in-chief of the pro-Kremlin RT television channel, Zinichev was “on the edge of a cliff with a videographer who slipped and fell into the water.”
Zinichev became the head of Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry in May 2018.
His predecessor stepped down after a major fire at a Siberian shopping centre killed more than 60 people, sending shockwaves throughout the country.
In 2016, Zinichev had a two-month stint as an acting governor of Russia’s westernmost Kaliningrad region. For a long time before that, he was part of President Vladimir Putin’s personal security detail.