- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 11, 2017

Russia’s longtime envoy to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, died from a heart attack suffered inside his Manhattan office last month, a city official said Friday.

The ambassador’s cause of death was confirmed by a senior city official on condition of anonymity Friday after the medical examiner’s office declined to release details about his passing on account of diplomatic protocol, the Associated Press reported.

Churkin, 64, collapsed inside his Manhattan office last month and died at a nearby hospital on February 20. The U.S. State Department formally asked the city four days later not to reveal the results of Churkin’s autopsy, AP reported Friday, arguing that the ambassador’s death did not invalidate his diplomatic immunity.

Julie Bolcer, spokeswoman for the city’s medical examiner, said the city’s law department was asked not to release details concerning Churkin’s death “in order to comply with international law and protocol,” the AP reported.

An individual who had been briefed by the medical examiner’s office but not authorized to discuss the matter disclosed the cause of death regardless, and claimed that investigators didn’t believe foul place was involved in the ambassador’s passing.

Churkin was appointed Russia’s ambassador to the U.N. in 2006, and was posthumously awarded the country’s Order of Courage last month by President Vladimir Putin.

The envoy’s unexpected passing last month made headlines amid President Trump’s recent efforts to rekindle Russia’s icy relationship with the U.S., notwithstanding lingering questions concerning senior White House officials and their purported ties to Moscow.

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