03:21 GMT01 June 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Former Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin's support for inter-religious activities contributed to advancing mutual understanding and urged people to push forward bridging between nations, Arthur Schneier, a senior rabbi of New York’s Park East Synagogue, told Sputnik.

    Sputnik spoke with rabbi Schneier on the first anniversary of Churkin's death.

    "I appreciated his support of my inter-religious activities in furthering mutual understanding, tolerance, and people to people bridge building between countries… A student of history he understood the tragedy of the Holocaust and joined me, a Holocaust survivor, at the Annual United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Service at Park East Synagogue attended by the UN Secretary General and the Diplomatic Corps," Schneier said.

    The rabbi noted that he had met with Churkin for the first time in 1985 when the latter was first secretary to Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin in Washington, DC.

    "We reconnected when he assumed the post as PR [Permanent Representative] of Russian Federation to the UN… A seasoned diplomat endowed with grace, humor and eloquence, even after delivering a tough speech in an heated debate with his unforgettable smile, he was able to recapture his personal relationship even with adversaries," Schneier said. He described Churkin as "a fine human being" and a "good friend."

    "Because of their welcoming outreach, the various functions hosted by Ambassador Churkin and his beloved wife, Irina, drew a full house of their colleagues and friends… He was a fine human being, good friend and neighbor, with an unforgettable smile. Elisabeth and I miss him," Schneier added.

    Churkin died in New York on February 20, 2017, a day before his 65th birthday. He served as Russia's permanent representative to the United Nations and as the Russian representative in the UN Security Council from April 2006 until his death. Churkin was buried on February 24 at Moscow's Troyekurovskoye Cemetery.


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