RUSSIAN President, Vladimir Putin, made a whistle-stop trip to Lisbon last week, when the Ukrainian elections topped the agenda.
During his seven-hour stopover he held talks with Portuguese Prime Minister, Pedro Santana Lopes, at his official residence of São Bento, and the President, Jorge Sampaio, at the Palacío de Belém.
Followed by a swarm of 30 Russian and Ukrainian journalists, the conservative Russian leader stated that “it wasn’t possible either to recognise or to protest about the recent elections in Kiev” which have been dogged by accusations of fraud and rigging, because there were no official results. Putin did, however, criticise foreign OSCE (Organisation for Co-operation and Security in Europe) election observers for stating that the results were ‘violated’. “They should have been a little more careful in their work. Ukraine is a large European country. I don’t think that we need to be giving lessons to Ukraine. I’m sure it could give lessons to other countries,” he stressed.
The crisis in Ukraine has special significance for Portugal given that there are an estimated 300,000 Ukrainian immigrants living and working in the country. Most of them, according to Ukrainian publications here, support reform.