Russia’s emergencies minister has died during a training exercise, the Russian government has reported.
“Yevgeny Zinichev tragically died while attempting to save someone’s life during inter-agency Arctic protection training exercises,” a government statement said.
In a message carried by news agencies in Russia, the emergencies ministry said: “We regret to inform you that Zinichev tragically died while performing official duties saving someone’s life during interdepartmental exercises to protect the Arctic zone from emergencies in Norilsk”.
The chief editor of state-funded RT news, Margarita Simoyan, reported that the minister had died while rescuing a cameraman who had slipped and fallen into the water.
“There were plenty of witnesses, but no one even had time to figure out what happened as Zinichev jumped into the water after the fallen man and l a protruding stone,” Ms Simonyan tweeted.
The RBC news website said that a second man, a TV cameraman, also died in the incident. Citing an unnamed source, the outlet reported that Mr Zinichev and the cameraman were near a cliff edge when the cameraman slipped and the minister attempted to save him. RBC also reported that Mr Zinichev’s first deputy, Zlexander Churpriyan is expected to step in as acting minister.
Hours before his death, Mr Zinichev was inspecting new firefighting facilities in the city of Norilsk.
The 55-year-old minister led the Emergency Situations Ministry since president Vladimir Putin’s re-election in 2018.
Mr Zinichev began his career in the late 1980s as a KGB officer, and later served in the Federal Security Service before joining president Putin’s personal security detail. In 2016, he spent two months as acting governor of Russia’s Kaliningrad region.
The Kremlin was informed the incident, and said that Mr Putin expressed his “deep condolences” over Mr Zinichev’s death.
More to follow...