The New York City Medical Examiner’s office announces that it will not release the autopsy results of Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, after pressure from the federal government with Russia’s support.
Donald Trump has known Churkin since 1986, when he met him at a luncheon with other Kremlin officials. In the months that followed, Churkin arranged for Trump to visit Russia, where he met Soviet intelligence agents. The men met again in 2013, and Churkin spent 2016 defending Trump at UN meetings — even when no one was attacking the then-candidate.
Churkin died suddenly on February 20, one month after Donald Trump was inaugurated and a day before his 65th birthday.
The details of Trump and Churkin’s relationship, their meetings, and why Churkin defended Trump remain a mystery, because on February 20, 2017, one month after Trump’s inauguration, Churkin died suddenly at the age of sixty-four.Sarah Kendzior, Hiding In Plain Sight
On February 21, the medical examiner announced that cause of death could not be determined without a toxicology test. Within three days, government officials began lobbying the city to block Churkin’s autopsy results and have all calls related to his death directed to the State Department.
In letters to the New York City Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, US officials argued that they have a “legal obligation” to show Churkin respect by not revealing his cause of death. They noted that Russia had also raised concerns about releasing the autopsy.
According to the Associated Press‘s anonymous sources, Churkin died of a heart attack. According to Russian officials, he fell ill in his office and passed shortly after he arrived at the hospital.
The official cause of Churkin’s death remains a mystery.
New York Daily News (Archived)
Russia Beyond / TASS (Archived)
Sarah Kendzior, Hiding In Plain Sight, p.67-68
Photo: UN Photo