Yeltsin 'too tired' to get off his aircraft
Saturday 01 October 1994
When the Russian President's Aeroflot jet touched down shortly after noon, his Irish host Albert Reynolds, the Taoiseach, was waiting with local dignitaries and a band. The red carpet was rolled out to the aircraft steps.
The welcoming party waited for Mr Yeltsin to emerge from his Tupolev. And waited. And waited. Mr Reynolds' growing embarrassment was only partly concealed by his newly acquired Australian suntan.
When an air hostess carried Mrs Reynolds' bouquet for Mrs Yeltsin on board, it was clearly a no-show. Mr Reynolds made do instead with a half-hour chat with Oleg Soskovets, a first deputy Russian premier, and an invitation to visit Russia.
Mr Yeltsin's non-appearance was variously attributed by Russian officials to being 'indisposed' and to being 'very tired and sleeping'.
Mr Reynolds insisted: 'It's not an embarrassment. Mr Yeltsin is unwell and I sympathise. I do not feel there has been any sort of snub. When a man is ill, a man is ill. President Yeltsin suffers from high blood pressure and the advice of his doctors was that it would be better for him not to get off the aircraft.'
However, when Mr Yeltsin landed in Moscow last night, he said that he was 'perfectly well' and denied that illness had prevented his meeting with Mr Reynolds. He said he had slept through his stopover at Shannon. 'I'm going to tell you the truth. The trip lasted 18 hours and I simply slept. My bodyguards should have woken me but they didn't. That's what happened.'
Mr Yeltsin has suffered some health problems, including a back strain and a heart complaint. His sudden absences from government functions have often seemed more often attributable to drinking than to ill health, according to Kremlin- watchers.
He is known to like a drink. During ceremonies in Berlin last month to mark the withdrawal of the last Russian troops from Germany, the Russian leader stumbled after a champagne lunch, seized a conductor's baton to direct an orchestra and, on another occasion, grabbed a microphone and sang tunelessly.
Five years ago, the sternly teetotal Mikhail Gorbachev's image took a jolt during a similar Shannon stopover after a Moscow photographer caught him unwittingly downing his first whiskey.
The Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, had lured him into downing a full-strength Irish coffee - a drink invented at Shannon as a pick-me-up for exhausted transatlantic travellers in the days before jet airliners.
With his Government at last achieving a measure of stability, Mr Yeltsin was perhaps keen to avoid such pitfalls. No doubt his embassy in Dublin had warned him Mr Reynolds had gone off the rails in the last month, ending 58 years of abstinence with a celebratory glass of champagne after the IRA ceasefire.
- 1 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 2 Indian woman creates 'Marriage CV' after parents put her on dating site: 'Definitely not marriage material. Won’t grow long hair, ever'
- 3 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 GamerGate: developer Tim Schafer provokes rage with joke about online gaming activists at industry awards
Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
Indian woman creates 'Marriage CV' after parents put her on dating site: 'Definitely not marriage material. Won’t grow long hair, ever'
Isis 'bulldozes' Nimrud: UNESCO condemns destruction of ancient Assyrian site as a 'war crime'
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Westboro Baptist Church couldn't picket Leonard Nimoy's funeral because they didn't know where it was
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...
£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...
£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...