Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, died unexpectedly on Monday. CNN reported that Churkin, who served as the Russian U.N. ambassador since 2006, suffered cardiac arrest in New York City and was taken to the city’s Presbyterian Hospital, where he passed away. In response to the news, the Russian Foreign Ministry touted his service to the country: “The outstanding Russian diplomat died while he was in his current working role. We offer our condolences to the relatives of Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin.”
Along with his role with the U.N., Churkin was also the Russian ambassador to Canada, a position he held from 1998 to 2003. He also had stints as the ambassador to Belgium and a liaison ambassador to the Western European Union and NATO. Vladimir Putin and several of Churkin’s colleagues offered their condolences:
Churkin’s deputy, Pyotr Ilyichev, warmly remembered his friend as a dedicated public servant:
“The loss sustained by Russia is grave and irreplaceable. Ambassador Churkin remained at his work post until the last minute. He devoted his whole life to defending the interests of Russia and was to be found on the very front lines and in the most stressful posts.”
Churkin was 64 and passed away a day before his 65th birthday, according to CNN.