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 Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 What are your fingerprint words?
Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
Jennifer Lawrence: Leaked 4Chan sex video branded 'fake' by users
Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked next, threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...
£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...
£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...