Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, Dies Suddenly

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Russian Ambassador Dies Suddenly in NY

FILE PHOTO: Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin speaks during a news conference at the U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S. September 2, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDerm/File Photo TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTSZIQ3

Russian ambassador┬áVitaly Churkin, died suddenly in New York today. The ambassador to the United Nations was set to celebrate his 65th birthday tomorrow. President Vladimir Putin is said to be very upset about the death. He paid tribute to Mr Churkin’s “professionalism and diplomatic talent.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry did not release any details of the circumstances of Churkin’s death. They reported, “The outstanding Russian diplomat passed away at his work post. We express our deep condolences to the relatives and close family.”

Deputy spokesman for the UN secretary-general’s office, Farhan Haq said, “Our thoughts go to his family, to his friends and to his government.”

Vladimir Safronkov, Russia’s deputy UN ambassador said Mr. Churkin had become ill in his office at Russia’s UN mission. He was taken to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital where he died.

Churkin has been Russia’s permanent representative to the UN since 2006. He spoke Russian, Mongolian, English and French. He was considered Moscow’s great champion at the UN. He had a reputation for a sharp wit and quick repartee especially with his American and Western counterparts. He had previously been ambassador at large and earlier served as the foreign ministry spokesman.

Last October Churkin defended Russia against accusations it was bombing civilian targets during the offensive in the Syrian city of Aleppo. He said Russia regretted civilian casualties and was “careful about selecting targets.”

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