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Austrian Ex-Minister, Who Danced With Putin, Moves To Russia To Run Think Tank

Austrian Ex-Minister, Who Danced With Putin, Moves To Russia To Run Think Tank

Russian President Vladimir Putin danced with Karin Kneissl at her wedding.

Karin Kneissl, a former Austrian foreign minister who gained fame in 2018 for her dance with Russian President Vladimir Putin at her wedding, has relocated to St Petersburg to lead a think tank. She moved to the city along with her two ponies, who were flown on a Russian military transport plane from Syria.

According to The Moscow TimesKarin Kneissl will head the Geopolitical Observatory for Russia’s Key Issues (GORKI), a research centre at St Petersburg State University that was established this year and tasked with advancing Russian foreign policy.

Ms Kneissl made headlines when she invited Putin to her wedding in 2018 and was photographed dancing with him during the event. The 58-year-old left the government the following year.

The Guardian reported that Ms Kneissl, a highly controversial figure in her own country, moved to France in September 2020 and became a guest columnist for Russia Today, which is widely viewed as a propaganda arm of the Kremlin.

She claims she was pressured into leaving there and had temporarily settled in a small village in Lebanon.

According to the BBCshe said on social media that living in Lebanon had been a temporary solution “to survive” while she was commuting to Russia to teach. Ms Kneissl is a noted animal lover. She said that, because of sanctions against Syria and the security situation there, using a military transport plane was her only option to bring her ponies and other belongings to Russia.

Last week, Kneissl’s ponies were flown to Saint Petersburg on a military aircraft from the Russian air base at Hmeimim in Syria, according to a report by the Russian investigative website The Insider.

“It was impossible for me to drive a truck through Syria under the circumstances of the war,” Kneissl confirmed to AFP on Wednesday.

“Due to sanctions, there are no flights or DHL (shipping service),” Kneissl wrote on Telegram, astonished that her “move has become a political issue”.

In June, Kneissl unveiled the GORKI Centre, a think tank attached to Saint Petersburg University that will operate under her leadership. The think tank was set up to “help define the policies for the Russian Federation,” with a focus on the Near and Middle East.

“I co-founded the Gorki centre and manage it,” Russia’s state-owned Tass news agency quoted Ms Kneissl as saying. “Since there is a lot of work there and it requires a lot of attention, I cannot do this in passing. I decided to move to St Petersburg for this work.”

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