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Newsline: Cause of death of Russian ambassador to UN revealed

Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations who collapsed suddenly while at his embassy in Manhattan died from a heart attack, it was confirmed. No foul play is suspected in the death of Vitaly Churkin, according to a senior official briefed by the medical examiner’s office. The 64-year-old diplomat fell unconscious with a “cardiac condition” around 9.30am on Monday February 20 and was rushed to New York’s Presbyterian Hospital. However, despite attempts to revive him with CPR he was pronounced dead shortly after 11am. A post mortem was performed on Churkin last month, but the death required further study.


Newsline: Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s U.N. Ambassador, Dies at 64

Vitaly I. Churkin, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, died “suddenly” while at work in New York on Monday morning, the Russian government announced, without offering details about the cause of death. He would have been 65 on Tuesday. The deputy Russian ambassador, Petr Iliichev, said in brief remarks at a United Nations meeting on Monday that Mr. Churkin had been in the office “until the final moments.” Mr. Churkin had not been at Security Council meetings often recently, but he brushed off reporters’ questions last week about his health. Mr. Churkin, something of a legend in diplomatic circles, was a former child actor who could be caustic and wry in equal measure in his exchanges with American counterparts. He had formerly worked as a translator, and as ambassador he sometimes became visibly annoyed with United Nations translators who could not keep up with his rapid rat-a-tat speaking style. He began his career in the Soviet era, served as spokesman for the Foreign Ministry under Mikhail S. Gorbachev and represented Russia at the United Nations in recent years as relations with the United States soured, first over Libya and then over the crises in Syria and Ukraine. In an interview in October, Mr. Churkin said the last time Russian-American relations were so strained was more than four decades ago, when the Arab-Israeli conflict nearly brought the two Cold War powers to a military confrontation. At his death, he was the longest-serving ambassador on the United Nations Security Council, and he sometimes jokingly referred to himself as the “permanent representative,” the formal title for each member nation’s top envoy to the United Nations. Mr. Iliichev, his deputy, described him as a “strong negotiator, wonderful individual, a teacher.” News of Mr. Churkin’s sudden death sent a ripple of shock across the diplomatic community. He was widely seen as a deft diplomat, skilled at using the rules and protocol of the United Nations system to his country’s advantage, including Russia’s veto in the Security Council. He wielded that veto to block six resolutions that would have punished the government of Syria, Moscow’s staunch ally, and met every Western criticism of Russia’s conduct in the Syrian conflict with retorts about the Western role in Yemen and elsewhere.

Newsline: US ‘taking names’ of its opponents, new ambassador to UN says

Nikki Haley, the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is announcing a new way the U.S. does business. She says the Trump administration’s goal is to show U.S. strength and force and defend its allies — and as for countries opposing America, “We’re taking names.” The former South Carolina governor said the United States will respond “accordingly” to opponents. Haley spoke to the news media immediately after she walked into UN headquarters for the first time, saying “it’s a thrill to be here” and declaring that at the U.S. mission to the United Nations, “You are gonna see a change in the way we do business. It’s no longer about working harder, it’s about working smarter.” In the halls of UN headquarters, the Trump administration’s approach to the 193-member world organization has been a subject of non-stop diplomatic discussion, speculation and concern. The United States is a permanent veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council, the organization’s most powerful body, and it pays 22 per cent of its regular budget and over 28 per cent of the costs of its far-flung peacekeeping operations.


Newsline: US Ambassador to UN Sent to Ebola-Infected West African Nations

The United States ambassador to the United Nations is on her way to visit all three of the West African countries hit hardest by the Ebola outbreak, amid rising calls for travel restrictions back home in the U.S. Samantha Power will visit Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea “to draw attention to the need for increased support for the international response,” said a statement released late Saturday by the U.S. mission. A spokesman said Power had already departed and was set to land in the capital of Guinea, Conakry, on Sunday. Earlier Saturday, the ambassador tweeted a photo of herself with Guinea’s ambassador to the United Nations. Power has been vocal about the need for a stronger global response to Ebola’s devastating spread. In a speech a week ago, she even praised Cuba, a country that has been under a U.S. embargo for decades, for having sent 165 doctors to Sierra Leone. Power also will visit Ghana, the headquarters for the U.N.’s Ebola mission, and Belgium.


Newsline: Israeli ambassador to UN lashes out at General Assembly

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations slammed its members for “their complicity in allowing organizations like Hamas to continue to exist in the Middle East.” Ron Prosor spoke at a special General Assembly session on Gaza. “This institution was founded to stand for truth, for justice, and for moral clarity. This is no longer the case,” he told the delegates. Prosor spoke after the Palestinian Authority’s UN ambassador, Riyah Mansour, accused Israel of violating international law during its 29-day operation in Gaza. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the current cease-fire “has come at a price that is almost too much to bear. The massive death and destruction in Gaza have shocked and shamed the world.” Ban called for a negotiated political settlement between the two sides. He acknowledged that weapons had been discovered stored in what he called “abandoned” UN buildings and that there were reports that Hamas rockets had been fired from near UN properties.


Newsline: Syrian ambassador decries UN mistreatment

When the Syrian Mission to the United Nations convened a press conference featuring observers of the recent Syrian elections. Five minutes into the press conference, the webcast of the conference was abruptly cut off. Later that evening, while speaking at the UN church nearby, Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari commented on what occurred. This is not the first time the official UN webcast has been shut down while Jaafari was speaking. This occurred on June 7th, and numerous times throughout 2013. Inner City Press reported when June 7th the webcast was cut off, this was in compliance with a direct order from Michele DuBach, the Acting Deputy Director-News & Media Operations. The International Action Center, which participated in the press conference, has sent a message of protest to UN officials.


Newsline: Russian UN ambassador says US security services are bugging his office and phone

Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations, said he was sure U.S. security services were bugging his office and telephone. “I am sure they do,” he told the Sunday Time television programme on Russia’s Channel One on Sunday. “I proceed from the fact that I, in my official capacity, am being bugged all the time. We have lived through the Cold War, so I care little about this bugging.” “I am absolutely sure that my mobile phone is being bugged – it is obvious and I bear it in mind. We do have some secret premises where I can discuss things with my colleagues in a confidential atmosphere. And even if they don’t bug me, I still bear such possibility in mind,” he said.