Churkin died in New York on February 20, 2017, a day before his 65th birthday.
"Life brought me to Vitaly Ivanovich in 2015, when we [International Centre of the Roerichs, ICR] were opening ‘Roerich Pact. History and modernity’ exhibition at the UN headquarters along with the Russian mission. There are not many such meetings in life, and I am very happy that one of such meetings already took place in my life… [Churkin was] a man of amazing culture, mind, and extraordinary power… Near such people you begin to respect yourself… Because it was a Man in the full sense of this word," Samartseva said.
She added that Churkin assisted in the organization of the exhibition in every possible way.
"Everything coincided with the aggravation of the Ukrainian conflict, and Churkin decided that it is now more important than ever to do a peacekeeping exhibition… He supported the ICR initiative, in every possible way helped in organizing it. He considered that the idea of Roerich ‘Peace through culture’ reflects the relevance of modernity as never before," Samartseva added.
Churkin was born in Moscow on February 21, 1952. He served as Russia's permanent envoy to the United Nations and Russian representative in the UN Security Council from April 2006 until his death.
The diplomat was buried on February 24, 2017, at a Moscow cemetery.