Vitaly Churkin, who served as Russia's permanent representative to the United Nations since 2006, "died suddenly" in New York, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced. Churkin would have turned 65 on Tuesday.
The announcement "of the untimely passing away of Ambassador Vitaly Churkin this morning" was met with shock when it was delivered during a session at the UN headquarters.
"He was a dear colleague of all of us, a deeply committed diplomat of his country and one of the finest people we have known," a UN official who delivered the news to her colleagues said.
The moment of silence in Churkin's memory was announced at the UN.
Shocking news to hear the passing away of Amb Vitaly Churkin. A brilliant ambassador who served his country & people. May he rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/pFodXqs5Qm— @kamaNY (@kamapradipta) February 20, 2017
Before he was appointed to represent Russia at the UN in May 2006, the diplomat served as ambassador to Belgium, ambassador to Canada, and liaison ambassador to NATO and the Western European Union (WEU).
In the 2000s he was ambassador at large at Russia's Foreign Ministry, while in the early 1990s he served as the special representative of the Russian president to the talks on the former Yugoslavia. Sputnik:
Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin was born in Moscow in 1952. He graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 1974, beginning his decades-long career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shortly.
Ambassador Churkin served as Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations since 2006. Prior to this appointment, he was Ambassador at Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (2003-2006), Ambassador to Canada (1998-2003), Ambassador to Belgium and Liaison Ambassador to NATO and WEU (1994-1998), Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation to the talks on Former Yugoslavia (1992-1994), Director of the Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR/Russian Federation (1990-1992).
Vitaly Churkin held a Ph.D. in history. He is survived by his wife and two children.