Russian ambassador to United Nations dies after passing out at embassy

Russian UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin dies

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin died at the age of 64, just a day before his 65th birthday, in NY on Monday.

Vitaly Churkin fell ill in his New York City office and rushed to Columbia University Medical Center where doctors pronounced him dead.

Churkin fell ill in his office at Russia's United Nations mission and was taken to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, where he died Monday, AP reported, citing Russia's deputy United Nations ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov.

Vitaly Churkin was 64.

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Churkin was born in Moscow on February 21, 1952 into the family of an aviation design engineer.

Russia's foreign ministry paid tribute to an "outstanding diplomat", while Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the United Nations secretary-general's office, said he was "quite stunned". Churkin held the post of the Russian ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Belgium in 1994-1998 and the Russian ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Canada in 1998-2003. As a young boy he appeared in at least three films - two were about Vladimir Lenin.

The career diplomat had to defend Moscow's position in the United Nations during Russia's annexation of Crimea and the crisis in Eastern Ukraine.

Churkin was the longest-serving member of the Security Council, the UN's most powerful body.

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"The world is appalled, Mr. Churkin, and they want to know why didn't warn them", Rep. Edward Markey, D- Mass., said.

"This was a brief meeting but I was very, very impressed", Churkin said to reporters at the August 2016. Churkin retorted that she sounded like "Mother Theresa" for scolding Moscow and urged her to "remember the track record of your country".

Churkin was known as a tough negotiator and a top-notch diplomat.

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