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UNITED NATIONS, February 20. /TASS/. The UN General Assembly will shortly hold a special meeting to pay tribute to the memory of Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin who died on Monday at the age of 64.
Greatly saddened at news of passing of dear friend Amb Vitaly Churkin. #Russia & @UN have lost a true son and great international intellect pic.twitter.com/Dj8a1WT6ld— UN GA President (@UN_PGA) 20 February 2017
"At the appropriate moment in the coming period of mourning after we’ve fully consulted with all the relevant parties... I will convene a formal meeting of the General Assembly to pay tribute to the memory of the late representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin," Peter Thomson, President of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, has said.
He also declared a moment of silence in memory of Churkin, saying he was "one of the most respected and influential members of the UN family".
He said the Russia diplomat was distinguished by "his great intellect," diplomatics skills and "his good humor."
Apart from that, Thomson, who previously was Fiji’s Ambassador to the United Nations, praised his late Russian colleague for being his "consideration for others." "For those who come from small countries, like me, it was so encouraging," he said, adding that he could always call up the Russian diplomat and have a meeting with him and "he would have time to listen." "He was a very considerate man," he said.
Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin died in New York on Monday, a day before his 65th birthday. The Russian foreign ministry said he had died while performing his duties. "We offer sincere condolences to the family of Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin," the ministry said.
Farhan Haq, a Deputy Spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary General, told TASS earlier the United Nations was "shocked to hear of this news of the passing of Ambassador Churkin." "He's been a very longstanding presence here at the UN and we offer our condolences to his family, to his friends and also to the Government of Russia," he said.
The Russian diplomat took the floor at a United Nations Security Council meeting for the last time on February 2 when the situation in eastern Ukraine was in focus. Back then, he reacted harshly to the attacks of his British colleague, Matthew Rycott, over Crimea, saying that London should "clear conscience" and return what it had illegally seized from other countries before dwelling on Crimea’s future.
One of the first mentions about Vitaly Chukrin in the Western press dates back to 1986 when he was the first Soviet diplomat to address the US Congress hearings dedicated to the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident. "Churkin, with youthful good looks and fluent English, denied that the Soviets have withheld information, deftly parried sharp questions from members of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee and even lectured them not to "talk to my country in a commanding tone, " The Los Angeles Times wrote in its feature of May 2, 1986.