On Monday, Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin, died while he was at work in the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations. He was a diplomat who represented both the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation for over 40 years. Today would have been his birthday and he would have turned 65. Currently, Churkin was Russia’s ambassador to the U.N. He was also ambassador to Canada and Belgium, apart from many other posts he had. The U.N. characterized his sudden and unexpected death as being a big shock for everyone. The official cause of death is still unknown.
A defender of Russian values
Churkin has always been a defender of the Russian values and often had opposing ideas with the United States. Especially in what concerned the situations in Ukraine and in Syria. However, even if the country he represented was not always the most liked one inside the international community, his fellow diplomats respected him greatly as a person and as a character. Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power posted a Twitter message in which she declares herself very saddened by his sudden passing. They often had contradictory discussions, the most recent one being the Russian bombing of the city of Aleppo.
Devastated by passing of Russian UN Amb Vitaly Churkin.Diplomatic maestro &deeply caring man who did all he cld to bridge US-RUS differences
— Samantha Power (@SamanthaJPower) February 20, 2017
Under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Churkin was that smart diplomat who knew how to speak English fluently and he immediately attracted sympathy. He became Foreign Ministry spokesman, speaking both Russian and English, in order to better reach the western territories. Churkin transitioned into the Russian Federation while keeping his political career untouched. He was also a big part of the ending of the Yugoslavian war, even if history does not really mention it.
A death amid tensions
Vitaly Churkin’s death comes at a time when the relations between the United States and Russia are the main focus of the entire world. Especially president Trump’s connections with Russian president Vladimir Putin. The latter is the one who will need to choose a replacement for the vacant post. Churkin’s death reportedly upset and saddened Putin very much. Ambassadors often become real media stars while they work for the United Nations. Cameras follow them everywhere they go and the worldscomes to know them. And Churkin was one of those people who everyone admired and who everybody knew. Even if sometimes not all the people liked his ideas or his policies, they always liked his personality.
British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft characterized him as a “diplomatic giant”. UN Secretary-General António Guterres released a statement in which he said that Churkin possessed a lot of skills, many qualities and an amazing oratorical talent. His sudden passing affected everyone at the U.N. and some people even shed a tear. This is solid proof that the man left a mark and he will be forever remembered and his memory respected. There are currently no news about who will be his replacement.
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