Russia's Putin attends Austrian top diplomat's wedding





Vienna (dpa) - Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the wedding of Austria's top diplomat, Karin Kneissl, at a guesthouse in the south-eastern Austrian countryside on Saturday, amid heightened security precautions.



 
Putin's invitation to the wedding of Kneissl and businessman Wolfgang Meilinger has irritated Austrian opposition politicians, who have pointed to Russia's involvement in the ongoing Ukraine crisis.
Putin's presidential plane landed in Austria's second-largest city, Graz. He then travelled in a vehicle convoy almost 50 kilometres to the wedding venue near the Slovenian border.
The wedding was expected to have about 100 guests, including Austria's conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, and far-right Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache.
Putin was to bring along 10 members of a traditional Russian choir for the celebration, diplomatic sources told dpa.
Putin's attendance is a sign of strengthening ties between Russia and Austria after years of strained relations with the West over the Ukraine crisis.
Austria, unlike many other European countries, did not expel any Russian diplomats after Britain accused Russia of orchestrating a near-fatal chemical weapon attack on a former Russian double agent in England earlier this year.
This week the United States intends to expand its sanctions against Russia over the poisoning of the double agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia. Russia has adamantly rejected the accusation.
"How can Austria be a bridge-builder and honest broker during its EU presidency when Austria's foreign minister and chancellor are so blatantly taking sides?" a leading Austrian opposition legislator, Andreas Schieder, said in a statement.
After the event, Putin was scheduled to travel to Germany for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday evening.

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Saturday, August 18th 2018
(dpa)
           


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