Russian PM Vladimir Putin to visit Israel in June (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Barak Ravid 03/27/12)
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Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin wants to visit Israel in June,
and has expressed interest in unveiling a monument in Netanya
honoring Jewish Red Army soldiers who fought in World War II, a
senior Israeli official told Haaretz on Monday.
There have been no talks about specific arrangements because Putin
has yet to be inaugurated, the source said. After he is sworn in on
May 7, Israel is expected to begin preparing for his visit, the date
of which will be formally announced, the official said.
Israel is expected to be Putin´s second foreign destination after he
is inaugurated on May 7. Putin is due to travel to the United States
on May 20 to attend the G8 summit, where he is slated to meet with
U.S. President Barack Obama.
Since Putin was elected president earlier this month, senior Russian
officials have made several requests to the Foreign Ministry
regarding Putin´s interest in visiting Israel.
The Russian ambassador to Israel, Sergei Yakovlev, and Russia´s
deputy foreign minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, are among those who have
made such requests. Other requests were brought directly to Foreign
Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Putin earlier this month to
congratulate him on winning the presidential election. Netanayhu´s
aides issued a statement saying the two discussed the Middle East
situation and the Iranian nuclear program.
Netanyahu invited Putin to visit Israel and received an invitation
from him to visit Moscow.
Netanyahu met with Putin in Moscow in February 2010, and the two
announced they would set up a monument in Netanya to commemorate
Jewish soldiers who served in the Red Army during World War II. The
monument, designed by three Russian artists in the shape of a
labyrinth, is about to be completed and Putin would like to unveil
it, the Israeli official said.
Putin last visited Israel in April 2005, when Ariel Sharon was prime
minister. The highly irregular visit took place on Passover, with
only three weeks´ notice. Israel lobbied unsuccessfully to get the
In January 2011 Russian President Dmitri Medvedev was scheduled to
visit Israel, but the visit was canceled because of a Foreign
Ministry workers´ strike here. Medvedev, who was visiting the Middle
East, did pay a visit to Jericho, where he met with Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Putin won more than 60 percent of the votes in the Russian
presidential election of March 5. Like the Russian parliamentary
elections a few weeks earlier, the presidential election was marred
by claims of voter fraud and problems at the polling stations. Mass
anti-Putin rallies took place in Moscow.
Several reports by international organizations found rampant fraud in
the Russian parliamentary elections, which Putin´s party won. U.S.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed concern over the way the
election was conducted.
A few days after the parliamentary election, Putin met with Foreign
Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Moscow. Lieberman said after the
meeting that the Israeli observers posted in several polling stations
in Russia deemed the elections "fair, free and democratic." (©
Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 03/27/12)
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