Putin attends wedding of Austrian foreign minister

Karin Kneissl, member of the far-right Freedom Party and current Minister of Foreign Affairs, danced with the guest of honor at her wedding ceremony: Vladimir Putin.

Roxane Seckauer
Roxane Seckauer Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Putin attends wedding of Austrian foreign minister - NewsMavens
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, congratulates Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Why this story matters:

A Kremlin spokesman confirmed Putin's presence at the wedding ceremony. The Russian Foreign Ministry's statement described it as "a working visit," but most political observers were of the opinion that the Russian president's attendance was highly unusual.

Austrian political scientist and expert on Russia Gerhard Mangott noted that:

"Putin does not [usually] do that."

So why take the long journey? It could be a way to show he has friends in Europe, the political scientist speculates. The right-wing government of Austria is increasingly seeking mediation between Russia and the EU.

There were also protests. On Twitter, the chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament Hanna Hopko wrote:

"From now on, Austria can no longer be a mediator in Ukraine."

Several Austrian politicians demand Kneissl's resignation. In addition, several parliamentary questions were filed regarding the "cost of an autocrat's participation in a private party".

Details from the story:

  • Russia and Austria have been on friendly terms since the right-wing coalition came into power in Austria.
  • The Freedom Party of Austria and Putin have many common ideological values: tradition and national pride, for example.
  • Putin was also invited to Vienna in June. The visit cost at least 423,000 euros.
  • The private security firm hired for Kneissl's wedding was paid out of private funds. Putin arrived aboard a private plane.
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