Oleg Alexandrovich Troyanovsky, who served as the Soviet Union’s ambassador to the United Nations from 1977 to 1986, died on Dec. 21. Cause of death was not released. He was 84.
Troyanovsky was born into diplomacy: his father, Aleksandr A. Troyanovsky, served as the first Soviet ambassador to the United States from 1934 to 1938. Although he was born in Moscow, Oleg attended the Sidwell Friends prep school in Washington, D.C., and Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania before returning to the Soviet Union to complete his education at the Moscow Institute for Foreign Languages and Moscow University. After spending two years as a soldier in the Red Army, Troyanovsky joined the Russian Foreign Ministry to work as an assistant and interpreter for Soviet leaders like Josef Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev.
Troyanovsky served as the Soviet Union’s ambassador to Japan before he was appointed to the United Nations. During his nine years in New York, he was known for his wit and cool composure. In 1980, two members of a dissident Marxist group sneaked into the U.N. Security Council chamber and threw red paint on Troyanovsky and U.S. Ambassador William vanden Heuvel. The Russian’s response: “Better red than dead.” And when he was forced to listen to a recording of Soviet fighter pilots shooting down a Korean jumbo jet in 1983, Troyanovsky remained poker-faced and impassive.
“Mr. Troyanovsky was a brilliant diplomat who represented his country with singular expertise and adroitness at an acutely challenging time in the world and the history of the Organization,” said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
From 1986 to 1990, he held his final diplomatic post as the ambassador to China. Troyanovsky spent his retirement years working on his memoirs and giving lectures in Russia and abroad.