More tests needed on Russian UN ambassador's cause of death

Meanwhile, India said it has lost a friend with the sudden death of Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin as the United Nations expressed shock at the demise of the veteran diplomat who fiercely defended Moscow against the West's criticism.

Russian Federation held a funeral for its long-time ambassador to the United Nations who died suddenly earlier this week.

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The ministry "learned with bewilderment of leaks in the U.S. media about the course of an investigation into the causes of the Russian ambassador's death", Zakharova said at a weekly briefing. The Russian mission said Churkin dedicated most of his life to diplomatic service standing for his country's interests more than 40 years in total, of which 20 years he worked as Ambassador to Belgium, Canada.

Churkin died "suddenly in NY on February 20, a day ahead of his 65th birthday", according to a statement issued by the Russian foreign ministry. The cause of his death was unknown. Churkin's body was returned to Moscow, where a farewell ceremony will be conducted Friday.

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Her predecessor, Samantha Power, described him on Twitter as a "diplomatic maestro and deeply caring man" who had done all he could to bridge differences between the US and Russian Federation.

Liu described Churkin as a capable and experienced senior diplomat who has made important contributions to the United Nations and multilateralism. It was Churkin, as President of the UN Security Council in October, who had announced the selection of Guterres as the next UN chief. CIS member states' ambassadors to the USA and representatives of the United Nations secretariat were the first to sign the book. Churkin countered that Democratic former President 's administration, in which Power served, was "desperately" searching for scapegoats for its failures in Iraq, Syria and Libya. The U.N. General Assembly will schedule a special meeting to pay tribute to him.

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Churkin emerged as the face of a new approach to foreign affairs by the Soviet Union in 1986, when he testified before the US Congress about the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster. Churkin would have turned 65 today.


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