Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin Dies Suddenly in NY

Vitaly Churkin, the longtime Russian ambassador to the United Nations, died Monday in NY, according to Russian officials.

The Russian ambassador to the United Nations has died of a heart attack in New York City on Monday morning.

The 64-year-old envoy, whose death came just a day before his birthday, fell ill while in his mission's office in NY. He graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 1974.

A minute of silence was announced by Ukraine's Permanent Representative Vladimir Yelchenko who opened the UN Security Council's session devoted to conflicts in Europe. The French Permanent Representative, François Delattre, defined Churkin as "one of the most talented ambassadors I have ever met".

"On behalf of the government of Serbia and my own, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Ambassador Churkin, to You and to the government of Russia", Vucic said.

Thomson praised Churkin's "great intellect", "consummate diplomatic skills", good humor and consideration for others.

A USA government official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the case, said that Churkin had died of an apparent heart attack.

France's United Nations ambassador, François Delattre said that he and Mr. Churkin had "always worked together in a spirit of mutual respect and personal friendship", despite their divides. One of Delattre's predecessors, Gérard Araud - now the French ambassador to the United States - recalled Mr. Churkin as "abrasive, amusing and technically impeccable".

"A brilliant ambassador who served his country & people".

In an unusual move, Churkin appeared before lawmakers from the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee following the explosion in the wake of worldwide criticism over the Kremlin's public reticence about the accident.

Russia's deputy United Nations ambassador says Churkin became ill in his office at Russia's United Nations mission and was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Given his long posting at the United Nations - previously held for a decade by Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov - Churkin joked in a recent interview that his stint was surpassed only by the envoy from Turkmenistan.

He served as the USSR Foreign Ministry's information department head from 1990 to 1992.

  • Leroy Wright