A career Russian ambassador mysteriously died in New York City this morning.
Vitaly Churkin was a 64-year-old who had been serving as Russia’s ambassador to the U.N. since 2006, but his days came to an end at the Russian embassy in Manhattan after he fell ill with some sort of heart condition. The Independent reports that Churkin was rushed to the hospital, but he died just hours later, sending shockwaves through the international community.
Little is known about the circumstances surrounding Churkin’s death, and Russia’s response shed absolutely no insight on it whatsoever. In fact, the Russian Ministry was eerily quiet about the ordeal, and simply stated “A prominent Russian diplomat has passed away while at work. We’d like to express our sincere condolences to Vitaly Churkin’s family.”
More on Churkin’s career from the Independent:
Mr Churkin was a strident defender of Russian foreign policy, particularly the intensive bombing of Aleppo last year in order to crush rebels opposed to Syrian President Bahaer-al-Assad.
Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Yevgeniy Zagaynov said that Mr Churkin, who was fluent in English, French, Russian and Mongolian, kept working “till the very end.”
Before he was appointed as the country’s ambassador at the UN in May 2006, the diplomat served as ambassador to Belgium and 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 during the talks on the former Yugoslavia.
Churkin’s death comes just over a month after Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrel Karlow, was gunned down by a terrorist shouting “Don’t forget Aleppo” as he gave a speech in the nation. Just hours after the ambassador was killed, another Russian diplomat was found dead inside of his Moscow home after being shot numerous times.
Churkin’s death makes a total of three Russian diplomats to face untimely deaths in just two months’ time. Whether or not the incidents are related remains to be seen, but it’s one hell of a coincidence that three men in similar positions have all died within a very short amount of time.