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.

No cause of death was given, but media reports last month said that Ignatyev had been treated for pneumonia in a hospital. 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.

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.