Russia’s emergency situations minister dies during drills: news agencies

Minister of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief of Russia Yevgeny Zinichev listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting in Moscow, Russia December 27, 2019. (File photo: Reuters)
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MOSCOW – Russian Minister of Emergency Situations Yevgeny Zinichev died tragically at the age of 55 in the line of duty as he was saving a person’s life, the ministry said on Wednesday.

“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 ministry said in a statement.

Margarita Simonyan, chief editor of the state-funded RT news broadcaster, said that Zinichev died while rescuing a cameraman who slipped and fell 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 landed on a protruding stone,” Simonyan tweeted without indicating whether the cameraman was an RT employee.

Citing an unnamed source, the RBC news website reported that Zinichev died during the filming of an Emergency Situations Ministry training video.

“He tried to hold a film crew member who slipped off the edge of a cliff,” the outlet said, adding that the cameraman also died in the incident.

Zinichev had headed the Emergency Situations Ministry since 2018 following President Vladimir Putin’s re-election.

He began his career as a KGB officer in the late 1980s and continued to serve in the Federal Security Service (FSB) in the post-Soviet period.

According to the RBC news website, Zinichev was part of Putin’s personal security detail and his “aide-de-camp” from 2006-2015.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Putin has been informed of Zinichev’s death.

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