Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl and Russian President Vladimir Putin dance during her wedding on August 18, 2018 in Gamlitz, Styria, Austria.
Roland Schlager/APA/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
Austria’s former foreign minister Karin Kneissl has moved to St. Petersburg to manage a think tank.
A Russian military plane flew her and her ponies to Russia.
The politician was affiliated with a far-right party and once danced with Putin at her wedding.
An Austrian former foreign minister has moved to St. Petersburg along with her two ponies, flown in on a Russian military plane, Russian media reported.
Last week, Karin Kneissl and her ponies were airlifted on a military transport plane that had to be diverted from carrying troops via a Russian air base in Syria to St. Petersburg, said a report by Russian investigative website The Insider (a separate news outlet to this publication).
Kneissl, 58, drew widespread criticism in 2018 when she invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to her wedding and danced with him when she was in office.
She said she had decided to move to Russia to run a think tank at St. Petersburg University, reported Russia’s state-owned Tass news agency.
“I co-founded the Gorki center and manage it,” Tass quotes her 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.”
Kneissl was the foreign minister of Austria from 2017-2019 and lost her position after a scandal engulfed the far-right Austrian Freedom Party, which appointed her.
She then moved to France and then Lebanon, where she said she was living to “survive” while commuting to Russia to work, per BBC News.
Her connections to Russia run deep — she was a regular contributor to the Russian state-backed news channel RT, widely viewed as the Kremlin’s propaganda arm. She was also once a board member of the state-owned oil company Rosneft.
Kneissl said on social media that she took a Russian military plane to St. Petersburg along with her possessions — and ponies — as due to sanctions against Syria there were no commercial flights or DHL.
“I, therefore, had the option of accompanying a Russian transport flight from Syria to Russia, for which I am very grateful,” she wrote in a Telegram post, per The Guardian.
The Gorki center, unveiled by Kneissl in June, was set up to “help define the policies for the Russian Federation” with a focus on the Near and Middle East, per The Guardian.