Vladimir Putin attends Austrian foreign minister’s wedding

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Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl and Russian President Vladimir Putin dance during her wedding on 18 August 2018 in Gamlitz, AustriaImage copyright
AFP

Image caption

Mr Putin took his host for a twirl, ignoring the controversy about the invitation

Russian President Vladimir Putin has attended the wedding of Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, who has been criticised for inviting him.

Mr Putin gave her presents and danced with her at the event in the southern Austrian province of Styria.

Opposition politicians have accused Ms Kneissl of undermining EU foreign policy with her choice of guest.

Mr Putin stopped in Austria on his way to Germany, where he will hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Ms Kneissl, 53, married entrepreneur Wolfgang Meilinger at a ceremony in the small town of Gamlitz, near the border with Slovenia.

Mr Putin arrived with a bunch of flowers for the bride and was accompanied by a troupe of Cossack singers who performed for the guests.

His spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian media he also presented the newly-weds with a painting of village life, an antique oil press and a samovar, an urn used to prepare tea in Russia.

Image copyright
AFP

Image caption

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the guests appreciated the performance by the Cossack choir

He gave a speech in German and toasted the bride and groom, Mr Peskov added.

Ms Kneissl, an academic with no party affiliation, was picked as foreign minister by Austria’s far-right Freedom Party – a coalition partner in the current government.

The Russian president was invited during a visit to Austria earlier this year. Mr Peskov said Mr Putin “shared a passion for judo” with Mr Meilinger.

There has been vigorous debate in the Austrian media about the Russian president’s appearance since it was announced this week.

Members of the country’s Green Party are among those calling for the foreign minister to resign over the invitation.

Some politicians have voiced concern about the potential cost to taxpayers incurred by increased security for the visit.

The Russian president is also set for informal talks with the German chancellor on Saturday about a number of issues.

Germany is facing pressure from the US to halt work on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project which will transport gas from Russia.

Speaking to the media on Friday, Mrs Merkel said she would like to discuss the possibility of a meeting on Syria with other Nato partners, but that “no specific results are expected” from Saturday’s working meeting.



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