Police in Turkey are probing the death of a senior Moscow envoy found dead during a diplomatic trip.
Colleagues of Nikolai Kobrinets, 61, head of the Russian foreign ministry’s department for pan-European cooperation, raised the alarm when he did not appear for a scheduled meeting on Friday morning.
He was found dead in his hotel room in Istanbul’s Taksim district, with the Turkish news outlet Hurriyet reporting that the initial investigations pointed towards the diplomat dying of a heart attack.
His body was taken to the morgue of the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Bahçelievler Yenibosna where an autopsy is to be performed, while the police are checking his hotel room for fingerprints and CCTV footage, the publication added.
The Russian Foreign Ministry’s press service confirmed Kobrinets’ death, but gave no details regarding the cause.
Describing him as a “talented diplomat” who had “devoted his entire working life to protecting the foreign policy interests of the motherland,” the foreign ministry said he had been awarded the Medal of the Order of Merit for the Fatherland as well as a certificate of honor from President Vladimir Putin.
“The bright memory of Nikolai… will forever remain in our hearts,” the statement added. Newsweek has contacted by email the Russian foreign ministry for comment.
It is the not the first death of a Russian envoy in Turkey. In December 2016, Russia’s ambassador to Ankara, Andrei Karlov, died after he being fatally injured by police officer Mevlut Altintas at a photo exhibition in the capital.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried to attribute the assassination to the trans-national Turkish opposition Gülen movement but there was no evidence for this. In 2021, five people were sentenced to life imprisonment over the murder.
The death of Kobrinets is the latest death of a Russian official since the start of Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Many of the deaths have occurred in mysterious circumstances, including apparent suicides and falling from windows.
Among the most high-profile deaths was Yevgeny Prigozhin, the former head of the Wagner Group of mercenaries, who perished in a plane crash two months after he had staged a mutiny against Russia’s military establishment.
Other Russian deaths include that of the former head of the Moscow Aviation Institute Anatoly Gerashchenko whom investigators said had fallen down stairs in September 2022.
In March 2023, Andrey Botikov, one of the scientists who developed the Sputnik V vaccine at the Gamaleya National Research Center, was found strangled in his apartment.
Update 10/16/23, 8:40 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with further information.