MOSCOW, August 17. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s presence at Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl’s wedding due on Saturday, August 18, has no political side to it, Austrian Foreign Ministry spokesman told the Austria Press Agency.
"It will be a private celebration and a private visit in the first place. It by no means entails changes in Austria’s foreign policy," the spokesman said.
Earlier, the European parliament’s member from Austria’s ecological party, The Greens, Michel Reimon, demanded Kneissl should resign because, he claimed, Putin’s visit could not be regarded as a purely private affair. He also called upon Austria’s Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to ask Kneissl to step down, should she refuse to do so of her own accord.
The Austrian Foreign Ministry explained, however, Putin’s arrival is regarded as a working visit and will be accompanied by standard security precautions normally taken in case of any visit by the country’s foreign guest.
Some Austrian legislators speculated that Austrian taxpayers will have to bear the costs of the high-ranking Russian guest's visit. The Foreign Ministry’s spokesman said that "the Russian side will bear all costs [of maintaining security] on its own, while the spending on the wedding ceremony and the ‘private security firm’ will be paid for by Karin Kneissl heself.
According to media reports, Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is expected to attend the wedding, too.
On Saturday, before Putin’s arrival in Austria’s federal land Styria where the wedding will take place, hundreds of police will be involved in maintaining security. According to earlier reports, Austria’s crack unit Cobra will participate in the security effort, too.
Local police spokesman Fritz Grundig said preparations for the Russian president’s visit were a joint job of the interior and foreign ministries, the Russian embassy and Graz-Thalerhof airport.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday confirmed Putin’s intention to attend the wedding of Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl and Wolfgang Meilinger on August 18.
"Yes, he will make a stop on the way to Berlin," he said. According to the press-services of the Russian president and Germany’s federal chancellor, Angela Merkel will receive Putin at her countryside residence Meseberg, near Berlin, for talks. They will discuss Syria and eastern Ukraine among other things.
The Kremlin official said Putin would bring a special gift for the newlyweds, but did not disclose the details.
"I cannot tell you anything for now. We will let you know," Peskov said.