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 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 3 Ed Sheeran dedicates song to David Cameron
- 4 Now we know whose fault it is if you end up being murdered in Thailand
- 5 35,000 walrus gather ashore on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
Car tax disc changes: Five facts you never knew about your (almost obsolete) tax disc
The Aral Sea: Nasa pictures show how what was once the fourth largest lake in the world has become almost completely dry
Amal Alamuddin: Human rights lawyer's legal chambers forced to upgrade website following George Clooney wedding
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...
£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...
Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...