Russian Ambassador To UN Vitaly Churkin Has "Died Suddenly" In New York; Putin "Deeply Upset"
According to Reuters, Vladimir Putin was deeply upset to learn of the death of Vitaly Churkin, Russian news agencies cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying on Monday.
"The head of state highly valued Churkin's professionalism and diplomatic talent," Peskov said.
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 died one day before his 65th birthday. Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, told AP that Churkin became ill and was taken to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, where he died Monday.
Churkin was at the Russian embassy on East 67th Street when he became sick with a “cardiac condition” around 9:30 am, sources told the New York Post. A Russian Embassy spokesperson told CBS News that they believe Churkin died of a heart attack but they do not yet have official word on the cause of death.
As the AP adds, Churkin has been Russia's envoy at the United Nations for a little over a decade and was considered Moscow's great champion at the U.N. He had a reputation for an acute wit and sharp repartee especially with his American and Western counterparts. He was previously ambassador at large and earlier served as the foreign ministry spokesman.