Russian Emergencies Minister, Yevgeny Zinichev Dies on Arctic drill

Russia’s Emergencies Minister Yevgeny Zinichev has died in an accident during a big Arctic civil defence exercise.

Yevgeny Zinichev

The ministry said Zinichev, 55, had died in the Norilsk area while trying to save someone’s life.

A cameraman had fallen off a cliff during an interview, according to Margarita Simonyan, the head of Russian broadcaster RT.

“He and the cameraman were on the edge of a cliff. The cameraman slipped and fell into the water,” she said.

“Zinichev rushed after the fallen man and died after hitting a protruding rock.” The cameraman, later named as film director Alexander Melnik, 63, also died. Russian media said the accident happened at the Kitabo Oron waterfall in the Putorana nature reserve in northern Siberia, some 165km (100 miles) west of Norilsk.Zinichev had been emergencies minister since 2018 and for years was reportedly a key member of President Vladimir Putin’s security detail.

For most of his career he worked in state security, beginning with the Soviet KGB and eventually rising to number two in Russia’s federal security service in 2016.

A Kremlin statement said Putin had shared many years working with Zinichev and spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was a great loss.

Melnik was a director and screenwriter and was known for his 2015 Arctic adventure film Territory.

The film was shot on the Putorana plateau where he died. He was planning a documentary on the development of the Arctic and Russia’s Northern Sea Route.