Dhe Russian disaster control minister Yevgeny Sinichev died on Wednesday near the city of Norilsk, north of the Arctic Circle. The Russian Ministry of Exceptional Situations said that Zinichev “died tragically” while trying to save the life of another person during civil protection drills in the Arctic. The ministry later confirmed media reports that the 55-year-old minister tried to save the life of director Alexandr Melnik.

The sixty-three year old wanted to shoot material for a film about the Russian plans for the development of the Arctic and the Northern Sea Route, on which Moscow plans a large-scale freight transport from Asia to Europe should be possible. The head of the state broadcaster RT, Margarita Simonjan, wrote that a cameraman – Melnik was meant – had stood with the minister on the edge of a ledge and slipped into the water. “There were enough eyewitnesses – when it was still not clear to anyone what had happened, Sinichev fell into the water after the fallen person and crashed against a protruding stone.”

According to media reports, the director was also killed. The incident took place on a lake around 120 kilometers from Norilsk, according to various representations on a rock or a waterfall. The two men are said to have been flown to a hospital in the city by helicopter, but in vain.

The Kremlin said that “many years of joint work” have united Vladimir Putin and Sinichev; the President offered his condolences to his family and friends. Sinichev, who had served in the KGB secret service since 1987, worked for a long time in its successor FSO, which was responsible for personal protection, from 2006 to 2015 as Putin’s personal bodyguard, whom he accompanied on many trips. Then he joined the domestic intelligence service FSB in the exclave of Kaliningrad, of which Sinichev became the managing governor in July 2016. But he came back to Moscow in the autumn of that year as deputy head of the FSB. Since May 2018, Sinichev was Minister of Disaster Control and a member of the National Security Council. He was married with a son and three grandchildren.

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