New video shows Vladimir Putin taking centre stage at wedding of Austrian foreign minister

Russian president dances with bride, makes speech and - inevitably - sits at top table

Colin Drury
Sunday 19 August 2018 19:31 BST
Putin dances at Austrian minister, Karin Kneissl's wedding

As wedding guests go, there was always a chance they might upstage the bride and groom. In the case of Vladimir Putin it is almost certain.

Now new footage from inside the weekend marriage of Austrian foreign minister Karin Kneissl appears to show her controversial guest very much taking centre stage.

Ms Kneissel has been accused by opposition parties of undermining joint EU foreign policy by inviting Mr Putin.

The Russian president is seen dancing with the bride, offering up flowers and introducing a troupe of singing Cossacks to serenade the couple. He is sat at the top table and makes a brief speech in German.

Eyebrows were raised across European capitals when it emerged he had attended the nuptials of Mrs Kneissl and entrepreneur Wolfgang Meilinger on his way to Germany for talks with Angela Merkel.

“It was a nice trip,” said Mr Putin afterwards. “It was a private visit.”

Mrs Kneissl – an independent politician supported by the pro-Russia Austrian Freedom Party – first met the former KGB spy 17 years ago at a summit in Slovenia. She invited him to the ceremony, in the town of Graz, when he was visiting Vienna earlier this year, presidential advisor Yuri Ushakov said.

But the move was criticised as inappropriate by many in Austria.

“How is Austria's presidency of the EU meant to live up to the government's own claims of building bridges [between the EU and Russia] and being an honest broker, when Austria's foreign minister and chancellor are so obviously on one side?' asked opposition MP Andreas Schieder, a member of the Social Democrats party.

His colleague Evelyn Regner, an Austrian MEP, added that the invite created a “shameful” image of Austria to its EU allies, branding it “a provocation”.

The Greens called for Mrs Kneissl's resignation, with a statement saying: “Vladimir Putin is the EU's most aggressive enemy in matters of foreign policy.”

Although the wedding was described as private by Mr Putin, Mr Kneissl's office has listed it as a “working visit”.

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