Academician Gury Marchuk, the architect of a unique and highly successful programme of Indo-Russian cooperation in science and technology, died in Moscow on Monday.

He was 87.

Marchuk, a renowned Russian physicist and mathematician, was the moving spirit behind the Integrated Long-Term Programme (ILTP) of Cooperation in Science & Technology set up in 1987 at the initiative of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Over 25 years that Marchuk co-chaired the ILTP Joint Council with Prof. C.N.R. Rao scientists of the two countries carried out hundreds of joint projects in dozens of research fields, from healthcare to information technologies and from biotechnology to lasers and electronics.

“Academician Marchuk was the main motivator and promoter of Indo-Russian scientific collaboration, with the ILTP emerging as the biggest bilateral programme either India or Russia has ever entered into,” said India’s Ambassador to Russia Ajai Malhotra.

In recognition of his services to India Marchuk was awarded Padma Bhushan in 2002. He was also honorary member of India’s National Academy of Sciences.

“We have lost a very dear and great friend of India. It’s a loss that will be almost impossible to fill,” Ambassador Malhotra told The Hindu.

“Apart from being talented scientist and organiser, he was a very fine human being,” added the Indian envoy, who personally knew Marchuk.

In the 1950s Marchuk helped build the Soviet thermonuclear bomb and designed a liquid metal cooled nuclear reactor for submarines that remains unrivalled to this day. Later he set up and headed for many years the Institute of Computational Mathematics in Moscow. In 1986 he was elected President of the Soviet Academy of Sciences and headed it till the break-up of the Soviet Union in December 1991.