At her wedding celebration in August 2018, the then Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl not only danced with her guest of honor Vladimir Putin – she also received valuable earrings as a gift from the Russian President, as Austrian media revealed on Thursday.
Kneissl was Foreign Minister from December 2017 to May 2019. She invited Putin to her wedding when her country held the rotating EU presidency. Pictures of her waltzing with Putin and curtseying to him went around the world at the time. But only now has it become known that the Kremlin boss, in addition to flowers and the Don Cossack choir, also brought a pair of sapphire earrings worth an estimated 50,000 euros for the bride.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, Kneissl could not simply keep the expensive gift; rather, the valuables were the property of the Republic. The jewels are now owned by the state, a spokeswoman for the Austrian Foreign Ministry told the AFP news agency on Thursday. Accordingly, both sides had initially signed a loan agreement in November 2019, later the ex-minister announced that she could not meet the conditions and was withdrawing from the contract. In February 2020 she returned the earrings.
After leaving the government, Kneissl, like ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD), took on a position on the supervisory board of the Russian state oil company Rosneft. Both refused to give up their posts after the Russian attack on Ukraine.
The former Austrian Foreign Minister has lived in France since September 2020. In a reply to AFP, she explained that the gifts “have been the property of the Republic since August 2018, as required by law”.
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