Russian president 'guest of honour' in Brussels
3 October 2005, BRUSSELS – Russia's President Vladimir Putin visited Brussels on Monday to open a cultural exhibition devoted to his country.
3 October 2005
BRUSSELS – Russia's President Vladimir Putin visited Brussels on Monday to open a cultural exhibition devoted to his country.
This year's Europalia, held at the Fine Arts Museum, focuses on avant-garde Russia from 1900-1935.
Putin flew to the Belgian capital to officially open the event, along with the Belgian King Albert II.
However, one of the city's leading councillors, green politician Henri Simons, boycotted the event, stating Putin did not deserve to be guest of honour. Simons said democracy was being attacked in Russia and human rights were being breached by Russia in Chechnya.
"I won't be at the Fine Arts Museum out of respect for democracy," said Simons.
Putin arrived in Brussels at about 1pm and had lunch with the king at Chateau Laeken before meeting Belgium's prime minister Guy Verhofstadt for a meeting.
The Russian leader then headed to Europalia for the launch ceremony. He was accompanied by his head of diplomacy, Serguei Lavrov, and several other ministers.
After Brussels, the Russians were scheduled to fly to London for a summit with European representatives.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news