A former Austrian foreign minister who danced with Vladimir Putin at their wedding won a seat on the board of directors of state-controlled Russian oil industry giant Rosneft, the company announced.
Karin Kneissl rose to infamy after inviting Putin to her wedding. Images of her dancing with the Russian leader in Gamlitz in the southeastern state of Styria near the Slovenian border went around the world in August 2018.
The footage, in which Kneissl, dressed in a dirndl suit, bowed to Putin, was broadcast exclusively on Russia’s state broadcaster Russia Today. It received widespread criticism, just months after some EU countries, excluding Austria, which emphasized its neutrality and cited its close ties with Russia, expelled dozens of Russian diplomats in response to the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal in Salisbury. .
Kneissl had her first contact with Putin during her time as foreign minister, a position in which she was assisted by the far-right FPÖ. She is not officially affiliated with any party.
After leaving government in 2019, she became a guest columnist for Russia Today last year, which is widely viewed as a propaganda arm of the Kremlin.
She will join Rosneft as an independent director, the company said in a statement made after his annual general meeting of shareholders on Tuesday, following his nomination in March.
It is not known how much Kneissl will earn. But he follows in the footsteps of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who befriended Putin during his tenure. He has been a member and chairman of the Rosneft board of directors for four years and has been confirmed to receive an annual salary of $ 600,000 (£ 424,000).
Schröder, who was a fervent supporter of the Nord Stream gas pipeline project supplying Russian gas to Germany, became head of Gazprom’s shareholders committee within weeks of being ousted from political office. Subsequently, he held various positions at Gazprom and Rosneft.
Other Western figures on Rosneft’s board include BP CEO Bernard Looney, who is Irish, and Bob Dudley, the former head of BP, who is American.
Rosneft’s chief executive is Igor Sechin, who has been a close Putin ally for about three decades. The company is majority owned by the Russian government.
Kneissl, 56, a former diplomat, who on her own website describes herself as a Middle Eastern energy analyst and author, has been in the news regularly since the famous dance. Her 2018 marriage to businessman Wolfgang Meilinger collapsed shortly after she accused him of being physically violent towards her. He has denied the charges.
She took a lawyer to court after he accused her of having unnecessarily euthanized her Boxer dog, Niklas, but the case was settled after the lawyer paid Kneissl € 5,000 in compensation and she withdrew her complaint. More recently, it was reported in the Austrian media that he had complained about his failed application for compensation from the government emergency fund for people who lost their income due to the pandemic because they were unable to work.
Kneissl is a virulent critic of the EU, and her first column for Russia Today was about the future of mobility, which she said would take place in Africa and China and not Europe, which was littered with “industrial graveyards.”