Commemorating Vitaly Churkin. Russia’s UN Ambassador Dies at Work

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Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, who would have turned 65 on February 21, died while at work in New York on Monday.

He started out on his career in 1974. Vitaly Ivanovich repeatedly faced situations challenging his prodigious talents for diplomacy and coped with them in a face-saving way, which is consistent with Russia’s diplomatic traditions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin conveyed his condolences on the untimely passing of Vitaly Churkin. As Dmitry Peskov, President’s Spokesperson, put it, “Putin had deeply regretted to learn about the death of Churkin”, adding that “the Head of State praised Churkin’s professionalism and diplomatic aptitude”.

Vitaly Churkin’s colleagues, mentees and friends consider his death a great loss for Russian diplomacy. Vitaly Ivanovich is hailed as an acknowledged master, a good friend, and a great mentor. He had a clear perception of his partners’ interests and a clear-cut vision of Russia’s national interests. Moreover, he could engage in a constructive dialogue even while tacking most sensitive issues, and had a good sense of humor.

“Undoubtedly, it is a tremendous loss. It will be impossible or notoriously difficult to replace him as a symbol of Russia foreign policy and the country’s voice in the UN Security Council, the major international platform. The diplomat was a strong-willed and resolute person who foiled our enemies’ efforts to undermine what constitutes Russia’s glory. This man could take the heat. More importantly, his personality, his will, his energy, his expertise, his intelligence epitomized the best diplomatic practices collected over decades and embodied in Russian foreign policy. He was a symbol of unshakable faith that he placed in our cause, our beliefs,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

“A most prominent modern diplomat, a man whose contribution to upholding Russia’s interests and promoting its foreign policy worldwide is immense. Churkin embodies the whole epoch in Russian diplomacy, in Russian cooperation with the United Nations”, stressed Leonid Slutsky, Chairman of the Duma Foreign Affairs Committee.

“The loss sustained by Russia is grave and irreplaceable. Ambassador Churkin remained at his post until the last minute. He devoted his whole life to defending the interests of Russia and was to be found on the very front lines and in the most stressful posts. A prominent diplomat, an adept negotiator, a wonderful man, a teacher passed away. He will go down in history as such a man,” said Churkin’s first deputy Pyotr Ilyichev.

Churkin’s foreign colleagues also pointed to the talent and professionalism of Russia’s UN envoy.

“The passing of our dear friend, late Ambassador Churkin, deeply saddened us all.  Both Russia and the UN have lost a savvy public figure with an impressive grasp of international relations,” stressed Peter Thomson, president of the 71st United Nations General Assembly.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Vitaly Churkin’s family and friends,” said the Acting State Department Spokesman Mark Toner.

Based on TASS reports. Photo: © REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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