RIP Vitaly Churkin

Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN since 2006, Vitaly Churkin’s finest hour was undoubtedly August 10, when he lambasted Western hypocrisy in supporting Georgian aggression against South Ossetia and the UN-mandated Russian peacekeepers stationed there:

Its military action had begun with tank and heavy artillery attacks on Russian peacekeepers, which had resulted in 12 deaths. The Russian Federation wondered whether the term “ethnic cleansing” could be used to describe Georgia’s actions. What other terms could be used when 30,000 of South Ossetia’s population of 100,000 had become refugees? Could it be described as genocide when 2,000 out of 100,000 people died?

How many civilians had to die before it was described as genocide? he asked. When others were lamenting the death of civilians in Georgia, why weren’t they worried about the attacks on villages in South Ossetia? How could the international community react when, despite all the international agreements — Russian peacekeepers were acting in South Ossetia in accordance with the agreement of 1992, signed by Georgia and South Ossetia -– Georgia directly targeted peacekeepers and civilians? Had Georgia expected peacekeepers to run away as they had in Srebrenica?

Back in 2008, Russia’s soft power instruments were much less developed than today. RT was just getting started up. Churkin’s clear and uncompromising statement of the Russian case amidst the Western propaganda of Russian aggression was a light in the darkness. This event, perhaps even more so than Putin’s Munich speech, marked the final onset of post-Soviet Russia’s disillusionment with the US and its ceaseless lies and betrayals. Putin himself put it very succinctly: “The very scale of this cynicism is astonishing — the attempt to turn white into black, black into white and to adeptly portray victims of aggression as aggressors and place the responsibility for the consequences of the aggression on the victims.

Churkin stoically soldiered on, laying out the Russian case on Libya, Syria, and Ukraine. This was not an unstressful job, considering the boorishness ideologues he had to do battle with (to take just one egregious example out of many, on convening an emergency session of the UN Security Council after the US bombed and killed 80 Syrian soldiers defending Deir ez-Zor, he was flat out informed by Obama’s flunky Samantha Power that she was “not interested” in what he had to say).

It’s possible that it was the stress that did his heart in at the age of 64. He had himself complained about it a few weeks before his death: “The profession of a diplomat has become much more hectic than it used to be in the past. It is stressful. Unfortunately, the world has not become more stable than it used to be.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Anatoly,

    Samantha Power: the living operational definition of a harridan.

  2. German_reader says

    According to Wikipedia he had been a child actor and starred in two movies about Lenin…how strange.
    I guess Samantha Power and a lot of deranged Twitter cretins will be celebrating now.

  3. First time I’ve become aware of Churkin was his interview on Charlie Rose shortly after the events in Crimea.

    Charlie Rose: Don’t you worry that Russia’s actions will cause the Baltic states to drift further away from Russia?

    Churkin (laughing): As far as we are concerned they could drift all the way to Indian Ocean.

  4. Here is a short clip of young Churkin with an actor playing Lenin.

    This clip is a great illustration of commenter Glossy’s point about the innocence of Soviet culture. Here is Vladimir Flippin’ Lenin shown in bed with a little boy and it never occurred to anyone that there might be anything the least bit inappropriate about that.

  5. A commenter in another thread took me to task for stating that the peacekeepers in South Ossetia were UN-mandated and, after further research, it looks like he was right. They were not, apparently, though the peacekeepers in Abkhazia were.

    Otherwise, Churkin’s death is quite saddening, the guy was a class act, I would have lost my patience with the likes of Powers quite a long time ago.

  6. Actually, Power tweeted a very classy mini-eulogy for Churkin. I was genuinely positively surprised.

  7. Outstanding man and a diplomat. This loss is simply devastating. In the same time, it might be the road to Masha Zakharova to Representative to UN and, eventually, Foreign Minister.

  8. I certainly hope not. She’s drunk too much of the “our partners” Kool-Aid. Has not only refused to defend Russian citizens whose rights were violated by Belarus (anti-svidomite journalism) and Azerbaijan (visiting N-K), but had the gall to support their prosecution. She’s got some good vatnik instincts but is otherwise unimpressive.

  9. She is merely a spokeswoman and she was expressing an official reaction. She also learns. So, I wouldn’t be reading too much in her deviation from a rather more defined positions by Russian patriots. After all, she is a diplomat and she already does have her own style. Churkin is irreplaceable, that much is clear.

  10. Gentlemen of Fortune, too. Think about it, guy lives with his mother, works as a nurse, has pics of his kindergarten charges hanging on the wall. That’s some Hitchcock sh** right there.

    Good innocent USSR. Degeneracy doesn’t just happen, it’s not the default state of society, someone promotes it…

  11. PiltdownMan says

    Our culture used to be pretty innocent, too. For instance, take a look at Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid.