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Late Russian Envoy Churkin Remembered With Praise, Silence At UN

The grave of Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin is covered with flowers in Moscow.

Russia's late United Nations Ambassador Vitaly Churkin has been remembered with tributes and a moment of silence in the UN General Assembly hall.

Diplomats from the UN's 193 member states on March 21 stood silently to honor Churkin, who died suddenly on February 20, the day before his 65th birthday. UN leaders and representatives then praised him in glowing terms as his wife, Irina, and son, Maksim, watched.

Calling the Russian envoy "a dear friend," General Assembly President Peter Thomson said. "To put it simply, in the theater of diplomacy, Ambassador Churkin was a giant, a deep and eloquent intellectual with a sharp wit and disarmingly approachable manner."

Germany's deputy UN ambassador, Jurgen Schulz, said it was how Churkin did his job, connecting with associates on a personal level, that made him "a landmark figure."

"In the world of diplomacy, there's no greater compliment than to be respected by those with whom one disagrees," Schulz said. "Ambassador Churkin earned this respect from everyone, regardless of policy or political differences."

Based on reporting by AP and TASS