RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin will not attend the official celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Slovak National Uprising (SNP) in Banská Bystrica. Instead, Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu will come, SNP Museum in Banská Bystrica director Stanislav Mičev confirmed to the SITA newswire on August 20.

Putin was invited to the celebrations by former president Ivan Gašparovič who was addressing presidents of states whose nationals helped liberate Slovakia in 1944 and 1945. This includes also Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Czech President Miloš Zeman and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski. Mičev said that Zeman and Komorowski have already confirmed they will come, SITA wrote.

Shoygu became defence minister in 2012. At the time media described him as close ally of Putin who accompanies him during fishing, hunting and skydiving expeditions. He allegedly seldom gives interviews and his basic characteristic is he is “firmly loyal”, SITA wrote.

Neither analyst with the Slovak Foreign Policy Association (SFPA) Alexander Duleba, nor Central European Political Institute (CEPI) Balázs Jarábik saw a problem in Shoygu’s participation. According to Duleba, it would be worse if the Russian minister was on the list of people sanctioned by the European Union, the Sme daily reported.

After the August 20 session of the government, Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák claimed that representative of Russia will attend the celebrations in Banská Bystrica, but refused to specify his name.

“Only a big cynic could doubt the contribution of the Red Army on liberating Czechoslovakia,” Lajčák said, as quoted by SITA.

When asked by the journalists whether Prime Minister Robert Fico does not harm the reputation of Slovakia when criticising the sanctions both the EU and Russia have imposed, Lajčák said that “Slovakia has always behaved as responsible partner”.

“No prime minister is pleased by the perspective that the GDP would fall and the unemployment would increase,” the minister continued, as quote by SITA.

Source: SITA, Sme

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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