Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin, Russian Ambassador to the UN, dies at 64

Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin, formerly a Russian ambassador to the United Nations (UN), has died at the age of 64.

He died yesterday 20 February, 2017,  in New York just one day away from his 65th birthday.

Churkin has been described as “an extremely capable diplomat” who fought hard to defend Russia’s interest in world affairs.

A former Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis told Sputnik that the deceased was admired even by his opponents for helping steer Russia to greatness, especially during the country’s most turbulent times.

“Diplomacy places you very often in front of skilled professionals who tell you exactly the opposite of what you are trying to do,” Yakis said in a statement. “Even in such circumstances, Ambassador Churkin defended the Russian interest without any concession but also without hurting his counterparts. And he was able to gain the admiration of his opponents.

Yakis said the late ambassador was a respectable diplomat who built a “brilliant career” for himself.

Before his death, Churkin was Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations and the Russian representative in the UN Security Council from April 2006.

He also held positions as Russia’s ambassador to Belgium and Canada, and worked as a liaison to NATO.

In 1990s, he was a Special Representative of the Russian President to the talks on Former Yugoslavia.

“He happened to be in this important job during one of the most tumultuous period for the Russian diplomacy. South-Ossetian crisis with Georgia; Ukrainian, Libyan and Syrian crises, and the Iran nuclear deal are some of them,” Yakis said.

“He did not mince his words when he had to. I always appreciated his high performance. Russia lost a very high class diplomat,” Yakis added, sharing his “most heartfelt sympathy with the Churkin’s family.”

Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement available on its official website: “A prominent Russian diplomat has passed away while at work. We’d like to express our sincere condolences to Vitaly Churkin’s family.”