The Russian United Nations ambassador died from a heart attack Monday in New York City. Officials say that Vitaly Churkin, 64 years old, had been inside the Russian mission to the United Nations on NYC’s East 67th Street at the time of the heart attack, about 9:30 am local time Monday. He was brought to the hospital immediately.
He wasn’t conscious at the time of his transport to New York’s Presbyterian Hospital, who announced his dead not long after 11am.
It is reported that he was meant to celebrate his birthday the very next day, when he would turn 65 years old. Police have made sure to state that there is no foul play being suspected.
Churkin made headlines in the previous year after he filed complaints to the United Nations last October requesting the high commissioner for the human rights section of the body to stop criticising Donald Trump, who was still a presidential candidate at the time.
“The outstanding Russian diplomat died while he was in his current working role,” wrote Russia’s Foreign Ministry in a press release.
“We offer our condolences to the relatives of Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin.”
Samantha Power, former United States ambassador to the UN while President Barack Obama was in offcie, also posted a touching message on her Twitter, saying, “Devastated by passing of Russian UN Amb Vitaly Churkin. Diplomatic maestro & deeply caring man who did all he could to bridge US-Russian differences.”
Matthew Rycroft, Britain’s UN ambassador, said that he felt the world lost “a diplomatic giant”.
Karel van Osterom, the Netherlands’ UN ambassador, also took to posting on Twitter, and uploaded a tribute for the diplomat, saying: “A brilliant ambassador who served his country & people. May he rest in peace.”
Churkin was known to have a witty characteristic and was one of the popular diplomats amongst his Western counterparts.