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Cossacks and flowers as Putin leads Austrian wedding dance

There used to be a Russian Cossack choir, a horse-drawn carriage and a venue specialising in a Viennese fried rooster. However something concerning the wedding ceremony of the Austrian international minister, Karin Kneissl, stood out: some of the visitors used to be the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

The precise main points of Putin’s debatable “non-public” consult with weren’t showed till the ultimate minute, when his non-public aircraft touched down on the tiny Graz regional airport early the day prior to this afternoon. The airport used to be in short closed to passengers and sealed off by means of a big police presence supported by means of Austria’s elite Cobra taskforce.

A Cossack choir serenades Austrian foreign minister Karin Kneissl and her groom Wolfgang Meilinger at their wedding.



A Cossack choir serenades Austrian international minister Karin Kneissl and her groom Wolfgang Meilinger at their wedding ceremony. Photograph: ROLAND SCHLAGER / POOL/EPA

Putin’s birthday party then travelled in a convoy of black trucks to the Tscheppe eating place, identified for its Backhendl rooster, and boasting a terrace overlooking a mountain winery within the picturesque Alpine state of Styria.

Tv photos confirmed Kneissl, 53, who had arrived previous along with her groom, businessman Wolfgang Meilinger, accepting a host of plants from Putin on the gate. And the 2 politicians then shared a dance – witnessed by means of the one photographer granted get right of entry to to the rite.

Putin’s entourage integrated the choir, which serenaded the couple and their visitors, amongst them Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the conservative Austrian Other folks’s birthday party and vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache from the far-right Freedom birthday party (FPÖ). The Russian president left a short while afterwards, dashing off to Berlin for wide-ranging bilateral talks with German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Kneissl, an impartial, owes her appointment as international minister to the populist, anti-immigrant FPÖ, the junior birthday party in Austria’s ruling coalition. A polyglot who speaks seven languages together with Arabic and Hebrew, she used to be prior to now referred to as a journalist and Center East analyst who made common appearances on Austrian broadcaster ORF and in recent times shifted to the suitable.

Putin’s attendance at her wedding ceremony drew anger from warring parties who stated it undermined the EU’s stance towards Russia over Ukraine. For Kneissl to ask “probably the most competitive international adversary of the EU” to a personal birthday celebration used to be “totally unacceptable”, Austrian Inexperienced MEP Michel Reimon stated ultimate week, calling for her resignation.

Kneissl’s show of heat to Putin additionally brought on outrage in Kiev, and sparked requires Austria to withdraw from the EU Fee’s efforts to mediate an finish to the frozen war with Russian-backed separatists within the nation’s east.

“It is going with out pronouncing: for those who invite Vladimir Putin for your wedding ceremony, you don’t seem to be impartial any longer,” tweeted Ukrainian MP and international affairs committee member Hanna Hopko. “To any extent further, Austria can’t be a mediator in Ukraine. Length.”

In a later Fb put up Hopko demanded Russia be held to account for the Skripal nerve agent assault in the United Kingdom, the downing of Malaysian Airways flight MH17 and alleged struggle crimes in Aleppo, Syria.

The Austrian executive stated Putin attended as “a private visitor”. Overseas ministry spokesman Matthias Forenbacher stated: “No alternate will consequence with regards to Austria’s international coverage place.”

Kneissl first met the Russian president 17 years in the past at a summit in Slovenia with the then US President George Bush in July 2001. A self-proclaimed “conservative loose spirit,” she belongs to no birthday party and has proved a divisive determine since her appointment to Austria’s rightwing coalition cupboard ultimate December.

Kneissl’s scepticism over Austria’s acceptance of refugees from the Center East received applause from the FPÖ and received her the international ministry when the populists rose to energy ultimate December. Kneissl has sharply criticised the EU’s dealing with of Brexit and Catalonia’s pressure for independence and poured scorn on Angela Merkel’s open-door migration coverage, which she has referred to as “grossly negligent”.

Putin’s attendance on the wedding ceremony might be taken as a slight in Berlin, the place Merkel had dampened expectancies for Saturday’s “operating assembly,” the primary time the leaders had met since a fractious summit in Sochi in Would possibly.

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