Putin mourns US shooting in space station link

11th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said all of Russia mourned the shooting of a US congresswoman as he spoke to her astronaut brother-in-law in a video link with the International Space Station.

No-one in Russia remains untouched by the tragedy, which left US lawmaker Gabrielle Giffords in a critical condition after a 22-year old mentally unstable gunman shot her in the head last week, Russia's strongman said.

A stony-faced and emotional sounding Putin spoke to her brother-in-law Scott Kelly as the entire crew of the ISS held a video conference with the Russian prime minister during his visit to the space mission control just outside Moscow.

Giffords' husband and Scott Kelly's brother Mark is also a top NASA astronaut who was due to join his brother on the space station later this year.

"I would like to express sincere support and sympathy to the head of the crew in connection with the attempt on Ms Giffords' life," Putin told Kelly, speaking into a telephone handset.

"In Russia there are no people who received this information without sympathy," Putin said.

Kelly, shown on state television pictures aboard the ISS with his crew members, thanked Putin in fluent Russian, saying he would pass on Putin's condolences to the family.

Mark had been training in Moscow to go into space later this year but was forced to interrupt his preparations after the shooting.

Giffords, a member of US President Barack Obama's Democratic Party, was meeting constituents at a suburban grocery store in Tucson, Arizona, last week when the assailant unleashed a volley of automatic fire.

Officials said six people were killed, including a nine-year-old girl and 12 others were wounded.

© 2011 AFP

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