Russian envoy passionate voice for his country
NEW YORK — Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, a veteran diplomat known as a potent and personable voice for his country’s interests as he sparred with his Western counterparts, died suddenly after falling ill Monday in his office at the mission.
Vitaly Churkin, 64, was taken to a hospital in New York, where he died, Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, told The Associated Press. His cause of death wasn’t immediately known.
He had been Russia’s envoy at the United Nations since 2006 and was considered Moscow’s great champion at the UN. Diplomatic colleagues from around the world mourned Churkin as a powerful and passionate voice for his nation, with both a deep knowledge of diplomacy and a large and colourful personality. He was the longestserving member of the Security Council, the UN’s most powerful body.
He was ambassador to Canada from 1998 to 2003.
Among other issues, he recently made Russia’s views heard on the conflict in Syria, sparring with diplomats from the U.S. and other Western countries over whether to impose sanctions or take action to end the conflict. President Vladimir Putin praised Churkin’s professionalism and diplomacy, according to the state news agency TASS.
“The president was grieved to learn about the death of Vitaly Churkin,” spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, according to the agency.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry called Churkin an “outstanding” diplomat and expressed condolences to his friends and family. Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a Facebook post that Churkin was “an extraordinary person. A bright man. We have lost a dear one.”
Ambassador Vitaly Churkin died suddenly in New York City on Monday.