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Russia’s emergency minister dies in freak accident

Zinichev die accident
Mr Zinichev (right) at the scene of a diesel spill in 2020. Photo: Getty
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Russian Emergencies Minister Yevgeny Zinichev has died during a training exercise in the Arctic, RIA news agency cited the ministry as saying.

The 55-year-old Mr Zinichev, who had headed the high-profile emergencies ministry since 2018, died while saving someone’s life, RIA said, without providing further details.

“Zinichev died tragically while performing his official duties during inter-departmental drills to prevent crisis situations in the Arctic, saving someone’s life,” RIA quoted the ministry as saying on Wednesday (local time).

Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Russia’s RT television channel, said Mr Zinichev had been standing on a ledge with a cameraman who slipped and fell into water.

“There were a fair number of witnesses – no one even had time to think about what had happened when Zinichev threw himself into the water for the fallen person and crashed into a protruding rock,” she wrote on Twitter.

The cameraman also died, Simonyan added.

Mr Zinichev was in the Arctic to oversee large-scale drills and visited the construction site for a fire station in Norilsk, as well as a search and rescue team in the area, the ministry had said in an earlier statement.

Before becoming a minister, Mr Zinichev held several jobs including as deputy director of the Federal Security Service and briefly as acting regional governor of Kaliningrad.

He was formerly a bodyguard and personal aide to President Vladimir Putin, according to Russian media. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies that Mr Putin had offered his condolences.