Russian minister dies during exercise in the Arctic | Polarjournal
One of the minister’s last photos. On the eve of the accident Yevgeny Zinichev visited the construction site of a new fire station in Norilsk (Photo: Russian Emergencies Ministry)

In Krasnoyarsk region the head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations General of the Army Yevgeny Zinichev died at the age of 56 together with the famous film director Alexander Melnik whom he tried to save.

The press service of the Ministry of Emergency officially confirmed the death of the minister on September 08. “We are sorry to inform that the head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Yevgeny Zinichev, tragically died in the line of duty while trying to save a person’s life during an exercise near Norilsk”.

Yevgeny Zinichev flies over fire-affected areas of the Chelyabinsk region in August 2021. (Photo: Alexei Nikolsky)

According to the Ministry of Emergency Situations, film director Alexander Melnik took part in the exercise to select locations for a new film. According to the report, Melnik wanted to shoot material for a film about Russian plans for the development of the Arctic and the Northern Sea Route, on which, according to Moscow’s plans, large-scale transport of goods from Asia to Europe should become possible. According to various Russian press reports, Melnik slipped on the edge of a cliff and fell into the water.

Zinichev was nearby when Melnik fell off a cliff into the water. “Without a moment’s hesitation, he acted not as a minister but as a savior, having committed a heroic act. He has lived like this all his life,” Deputy Minister Andrei Gurovich told “Russia 24” television channel. According to eyewitnesses, the minister crashed onto a stone.

The seriously injured were immediately flown to hospital by helicopter. On board, the crew requested two resuscitation vehicles, a ventilator and blood for transfusion. However, Zinichev and Melnik died before landing.

Russian Emergency Situations Minister Yevgeny Zinichev was considered a close confidant of President Vladimir Putin. (Photo: Kremlin)

Yevgeny Zinichev headed the Ministry of Emergency Situations since 2018. In December last year he was awarded the personal military rank of General of the Army.

From 1987 to 1991, Zinichev served in the USSR’s KGB and then continued to serve in the Federal Security Service (FSO). Since 2006 he was among the bodyguard of President Putin and accompanied him on his official trips.

In June 2015, he took over as head of the FSB’s Kaliningrad Region Department, after about a year he was appointed deputy governor of Kaliningrad Region, but held this post for a little over two months and returned to Moscow, where he took up the post of deputy director of Russia’s FSB.

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered his condolences in a telegram to the general’s wife and son, calling his death “an irreplaceable personal loss.”

On Thursday morning, September 9, the Kremlin announced that Putin had awarded Zinichev the title of Hero of Russia “for heroism and courage shown in his duty.”

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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