The Russian ambassador to the UN is “dead suddenly”

The Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vitali Tchourkine, died “suddenly” in New York on Monday, announced the Foreign Ministry, without indicating the cause of death.

“Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vitali Churkin, died suddenly in New York on February 20,” the ministry said in a statement.

Mr Tchourkine died on the eve of his 65th birthday, the ministry said.

“This remarkable diplomat died in office,” he added in his statement.

Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov told the Associated Press that his boss was taken to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital after suffering a discomfort in his UN office. The cause of death is not yet known.

Mr. Churkin was known as an ardent defender of the interests of Russia. His intelligence and sharp exchanges, especially with his American and Western counterparts, were legendary.

He had previously been Russian ambassador and spokesman for the country’s foreign ministry.

Diplomats holding a meeting at the UN headquarters in New York observed a minute’s silence at the announcement of his death.

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