Valerian A. Zorin, 84, who represented his country at the United Nations during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, died Jan. 14, according to Pravda, the official Soviet Communist Party newspaper. Pravda did not report where he died or the cause of his death.
He was ambassador to France from 1965 to 1971, then was appointed ambassador-at-large in charge of human rights issues. His career also included tours as ambassador to both Czechoslovakia and West Germany. He also served as a deputy foreign minister from 1956 to 1960 and again from 1963 to 1965.
Pravda said that Mr. Zorin was "highly valued" as a diplomat, but the obituary was signed by only three full Politburo members, while those for honored officials customarily are signed by the full complement of the dozen or more Politburo members.
The members signing the article were Soviet President Andrei A. Gromyko, who until recently was the Soviet Union's longtime foreign minister, and Gromyko's successor in that post, Eduard A. Shevardnadze. The third member was Geidar A. Aliev.
Mr. Zorin was considered a top negotiator in the 1950s and 1960s, but his prestige declined sharply in October 1962, when then Premier Nikita Khrushchev undercut his credibility at the United Nations.
During the Cuban missile debate in the U.N. Security Council, Mr. Zorin stubbornly clung to denials of U.S. charges that the Soviets were installing rockets bases in Cuba. He called American photographic evidence of the bases a fake. At about the same time, Khrushchev conceded in an exchange of letters with then President John F. Kennedy that Soviet missiles and bombers were in Cuba.
When the Kremlin decided to negotiate an end to the missile standoff, it sent diplomat Vasily V. Kuznetsov from Moscow, bypassing Mr. Zorin. Some Western diplomats in Moscow in October 1962 suggested that the Kremlin had kept Mr. Zorin in the dark about the missiles.
That December Mr. Zorin was relieved of his duties as chief Soviet U.N. delegate and recalled to Moscow in a move seen as part of Khrushchev's effort to appear conciliatory toward the West.
During World War II Mr. Zorin ran the Foreign Ministry's Central European Department. From 1945 to 1947 he was ambassador to Czechoslovakia. He served as ambassador to West Germany from 1955 to 1956.
He helped draw up the 1956 international fishing treaty and the Soviet Union's agreement on normalization of relations with Japan, a major postwar diplomatic move, and was appointed to the United Nations in 1960.
Mr. Zorin was born Jan. 14, 1902, in Novocherkask in southern Russia, into a Russian teacher's family. He held a doctorate in Chinese literature. A member of the Communist Party since 1922, he helped organize the Pioneer movement, the Party's children's organization. He was elected to the Communist Party Central Committee in 1956. He was awarded the Order of Lenin three times.