The former head of the autonomous Russian region of Chuvashia, Mikhail Ignatyev, has died in the hospital just days before his unprecedented lawsuit challenging his dismissal by President Vladimir Putin was to be heard in court.
Chuvashia's parliamentary website on June 19 confirmed reports saying that the 58-year-old former official had passed away.
No cause of death was given, but media reports last month said that Ignatyev had been treated for pneumonia in a hospital in the city of St. Petersburg. His condition at the time was said to be very serious, as he had been connected to a cardiopulmonary bypass unit to assist the functioning of his heart and lungs.
In May, the Russian Supreme Court said a hearing into the lawsuit filed by Ignatyev against Putin challenging his January dismissal would start on June 30.
Putin fired Ignatyev after the ruling United Russia party excluded Ignatyev from its ranks after he sparked a wave of public criticism by publicly saying at an event devoted to Press Day that "it is necessary to wipe out those journalists" who criticize the authorities.
The same month, Ignatyev touched off further criticism after a video was broadcast on Russian television channels showing him making a firefighter jump to get the keys to a new fire engine at a public event in Chuvashia's capital, Cheboksary.
It was the first known case of a former official suing Putin for losing a post.