Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, died in New York on Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The ministry gave no details on the circumstances of his death but offered condolences to his relatives. Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, reportedly said that Churkin became ill in his office at Russia’s UN mission and was taken to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, where he died Monday.
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Churkin, who would have turned 65 on Tuesday, served as Russia’s permanent representative of the United Nations since 2006. According to reports, the announcement of his death during a session at the UN headquarters was met with shock.
Before he became the Russian ambassador to the UN in May 2006, Churkin served as ambassador to Belgium, ambassador to Canada, and liaison ambassador to NATO and the Western European Union.
He was ambassador at large at Russia’s Foreign Ministry in the 2000s. Before that, in the early 1990s, Churkin served as the special representative of the Russian president to the talks on the former Yugoslavia.
He was known for an acute wit and sharp repartee especially with his American and Western counterparts.
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