The head of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, who was said to be in a short list of possible successors of Vladimir Putin, died under strange circumstances. On September 8, Yevgeny Zinichev, 55, died when saving a person during the exercises.

This is the first case of death of a sitting minister of the Russian federal government.

According to official data provided by the department, Zinichev was checking the construction of a new fire station in the city of Norilsk in the northern Krasnoyarsk Kray. He came to the village of Dudinka, where exercises aimed to protect the Russian Arctic zone from emergency situations were held. He was accompanied by the governor of the Krasnoyarsk Kray Alexander Uss.

Reports of Zinichev’s death were accompanied by a number of unofficial versions of the incident, including conspiracy ones.

At five o’clock in the morning, a helicopter with the minister on board reportedly took off from Norilsk. The accident took place at about seven o’clock.

According to some reports, Zinichev died during a film shooting. The footage of the exercise should be used by the Ministry of Emergency Situations. Zinichev reportedly tried to hold a film crew member who slipped at the edge of a cliff at the Kitabo-Oron waterfall. They both died.

RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan wrote in her Telegram channel, that the second victim is the cameraman, who fell into the water. Zinichev tried to save him, but he crashed on a rock.

Press service of the Ministry later confirmed that Zinichev had tried to save famous Russian film director Alexander Melnikov.

Zinichev was known to be a person of integrity with an impeccable reputation.

He was born on August 18, 1966 in Leningrad. From 1987 to 1991, he was in the service of the KGB of the USSR. He also worked in the Central Office of the FSB of Russia, where he became the head of the regional department. From 2006 to 2015 he worked in the personal security of President and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

An important fact of his biography is that he worked as the deputy head of the FSB’s Counter-Terrorism Service since 2014. In 2015, he was appointed head of the FSB department for the Kaliningrad Region.

He later served as the acting governor of the Kaliningrad region. From October 2016 to May 2018, he was deputy director of the FSB of Russia. In 2018, Zinichev was appointed the head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations.

Being an Army General, he was close to Russian President Putin. According to Putin’s Press Secretary, this is a great loss for the president, as they worked together for many years.

The tragic death of a high-ranking Russian politician is out of the ordinary and raises suspicion, as it happened at a time when the figure of Putin’s successor is being actively discussed, on the eve of the the State Duma elections, and when the confrontation within the Russian elites between the so-called “siloviki” and liberals has critically escalated.