Moscow has appointed Russian diplomat Pyotr Ilyichev acting head of its mission to the United Nations. The post has been vacant since the death of long-serving Russian ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin on Feb. 20.
According to a foreign ministry statement cited by Kommersant on Feb. 24 announcing his temporary appointment, Ilyichev will lead the Russian mission to the UN until a new representative can be appointed. Ilyichev previously served as Churkin’s deputy.
Churkin, who served as Russia’s representative in New York since 2006, was one of Russia’s most seasoned diplomats. His career spanned some 40 years, during which he served a number of ideologically disparate Russian leaders.
His death was unexpected and reportedly caused by a heart attack. It is unclear who will replace him. Moscow is already preparing to appoint a new ambassador to Washington, and a larger shuffle of Foreign Ministry officials is expected as several top hands are in their mid-to-late 60s.