Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations died unexpectedly in New York Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said.
Vitaly Churkin, 64, suffered from cardiac arrest one day before his 65th birthday while at the Russian Mission on East 67th Street.
The ambassador was rushed to New York’s Presbyterian Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
News of Churkin’s passing was later announced at a General Assembly meeting where a three-minute moment of silence was held for the career diplomat.
Churkin, who previously served as ambassador to Belgium, Canada and NATO, held his position at the U.N. since 2006.
“Ambassador Churkin remained at his work post until the last minute,” Churkin’s deputy Pyotr Ilyichev told Russian media outlets. “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.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to Churkin’s family and praised the diplomat’s “professionalism” and “talent,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.