Last month Vitaly Churkin, the longtime Russian Ambassador to the United Nations, suddenly dropped dead in New York. His death was only suspicious in the sense that he was the seventh Russian diplomat or operative to have dropped dead since Donald Trump’s Russia scandal exploded (and there’s since been an eighth). But now there’s real cause for suspicion regarding Churkin, because Trump’s own State Department has apparently intervened to prevent his cause of death from becoming public.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has released a statement claiming that the New York City Law Department has instructed it not to publicly disclose the cause of manner of Vitaly Churkin’s death. Why? It’s claiming that he still has diplomatic immunity. But this makes no sense on any level. For one thing, legal consensus is that diplomatic immunity ends with death. Additionally, diplomatic immunity is meant to protect diplomats from being falsely accused of crimes as political ploys by their host nations. So unless Churkin died while in the process of committing a crime himself, the concept wouldn’t legally apply.
Even more surreal, the statement from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner goes on to blame the “United States Department of State” for having invoked Churkin’s diplomatic immunity to assure that his cause of death doesn’t come out publicly, and asks that any further inquiries be directed there. But the Department of State is run by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has deep financial connections to Russia, and answers directly to Donald Trump.
In other words, Donald Trump’s State Department is incorrectly invoking diplomatic immunity in laughably invalid fashion in an effort to prevent the public from learning how Vitaly Churkin died. Considering that Churkin is the eighth prominent Russian to drop dead since the Trump-Russia scandal hit the headlines, that alone is suspicious and suggests the Trump administration is now trying to cover up the deaths of the Russians. You can read the Coronor’s Office statement here. Our recap of the first seven dead Russians is here. We’ve documented the recent eighth death, Alex Oronov, here.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report