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Russian mission, Khartoum; Mirgayas Shirinsky

Being a Russian diplomat is becoming a dangerous occupation

Being a Russian ambassador or member of the diplomatic corps of the Russian Federation, is becoming a dangerous occupation.

Published: August 28, 2017, 9:40 am

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    The Russian ambassador to the Sudan, Mirgayas Shirinsky died suddenly at his residence. The Russian embassy noted that the reason, most likely, was a health issue.

    Sudan’s foreign ministry confirmed that Russia’s ambassador to the African country has been found dead in his residence’s swimming pool in Khartoum. “Preliminary investigation shows that his death was natural,” police spokesman Omar al-Mokhtar told AFP news agency.

    The Sudanese police also ruled out an assassination. But Shirinsky’s sudden passing is the eighth death of a high ranking Russian diplomat in recent times. The job seems particularly stressful.

    The 62-year-old was discovered by embassy officials in his own residence on the evening of August 23 with “signs of an acute heart attack”. Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that staff at the Khartoum embassy called an ambulance but Shirinsky “could not be saved”.

    The Sudanese police almost immediately stated that they did not consider it as premeditated murder, and the death was most likely due to natural causes. This information was confirmed by the spokesman of the Russian diplomatic mission in the Sudan, Sergei Konyashin.

    Shirinsky had been in the Russian diplomatic service since 1977 and had previously served in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Rwanda. He was appointed ambassador to Sudan in 2013. 

    His sudden death marks the eighth Russian diplomat to die since May last year. The first dead diplomat was found at the Russian Consulate in New York the morning of Donald Trump’s election as US president. Sergei Krivov, 63, was found on the floor of the Russian Consulate with a reported head injury. Russian officials later concluded he had died from a heart attack. 

    Andrey Karlov, 62, the Russian ambassador to Turkey was shot in the back while making a speech in Ankara by an assassin, who yelled “Allahu akbar” and “We die in Aleppo, you die here”.

    The same day as Karlov’s assassination, Petr Polshikov, 56, a senior Russian diplomat, was murdered in his Moscow home. According to Moscow newspaper Moskovskij Komsomolets, he was shot dead and his wife later found him with a pillow covering his head.

    Then in January, the Russian Consul in Athens, Greece, Andrei Malanin, 55, was found dead on the bathroom floor in his apartment.  A couple of weeks later, Russia’s ambassador to India, Alexander Kadakin, 68, died after being ill, reportedly from heart failure, but few details of his death are known.

    Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, died in New York on February 20, 2017, the day before the 65th anniversary. As noted in the message of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the diplomat “passed away on the job” – he was found unconscious in his office in the building of the Russian diplomatic mission in Manhattan.

    The US state department has instructed New York City’s chief medical examiner not to disclose the cause of death of Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations.

    The cause of the veteran diplomat’s death remains unclear. “The New York City Law Department has instructed the Office of Chief Medical Examiner to not publicly disclose the cause and manner of death of Ambassador Vitaly Churkin,” a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office, Julie Bolcer, said in a statement.

    In May 2016, the charge d’affaires of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, Andrei Vorobiev died suddenly. The diplomat was 56 years old. The cause of death was given as a stroke.

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