churkin1The Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, who played a key role in establishing the Arctic Portal, died in New York on Monday of a heart attack.

Mr. Churkin was a major help in establishing the Arctic Portal, so the news of his death was a very sad event for the organisation.

Arctic Portal Director Halldór Jóhannson remembered the invaluable help Mr. Churkin gave when the organisation was nothing more than an idea.

"Back in 2004, Mr. Churkin allowed us to present the concept of the Arctic Portal to the Senior Arctic Officials of the Arctic Council. He also participated in the workshop that we had in Cambridge to help us to develop the concept further to align it with the Arctic Council's work," recalled Mr. Jóhannson.

"He was very open-minded and extremelly helpful. At the first meeting, I was given an opportunity to introduce the concept of the oganisation. When I was talking he stopped me and asked me, 'What do you really want?' So, I tried to get it out of me what I really wanted. He also took time to attend the meeting with us the next day and put his ideas into it, which were, of course, very valuable, because he was a very knowledgeable person."

I got to know him a little bit more over the years through my interactions with him," Mr. Jóhannson continued. "He told me great stories about his life when he was living in Canada and the USA during his time in the Russian Foreign Minisry. He was a very interesting person. He will be greatly missed by the international community."