Russian President Vladmir Putin’s first-ever state visit to sunny Singapore started on Tuesday (Nov 13).
President Putin’s two-day visit marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral ties between the two countries. The last time a Russian leader visited the republic was when former Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev came in 2009, the Straits Times reported.
Here’s how President Putin spent his first 24 hours here:
Putin arrived at Changi Airport and was received by Minister of Education Ong Ye Kung as he stepped off a private plane and headed down a red carpet.
He then dropped in at the Istana for a ceremonial welcome, and inspected the Guard of Honour. Ceremonial welcomes have previously been conducted for notable diplomats like Britain’s Prince Charles, former American President George Bush and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Following that, he made a courtesy call on President Halimah Yacob at the Istana, and left an entry in the guestbook.
President Putin was initially supposed to meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for a joint press conference, but this was rescheduled for Wednesday (Nov 14) due to Putin’s tight schedule, Russian news agency TASS quoted a Kremlin spokesman as saying.
After his Istana visit, Putin then attended a groundbreaking ceremony for an upcoming 4,600 sqm Russian Cultural Centre along Rangoon Road. It will house a Russian Orthodox Church and promote Russian language and culture in Singapore.
Archbishop Sergiy of Solnechnogorsk, administrator of the Moscow Patriarchate parishes in East and Southeast Asia, was also there to bless the building’s cornerstone.
Presidents Putin and Halimah then unveiled the cornerstone for the centre.
According to the Straits Times, talks between the Singapore and Russian governments on the creation of the centre took place as early as 2016.
The contract for the land lease was signed last year, website In Diplomacy quoted the Russian ambassador to Singapore, Andrey Tatarinov, as saying.
- Singapore Press Holdings
Lots of people attended the ceremony, including Minister of Education Ong Ye Kung, former Foreign Minister George Yeo, Mayor of the Central Singapore district, Denise Phua, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
At the end of the day President Putin returned to the Istana for a state banquet held in his honour. The Russian delegation met President Halimah before dinner commenced.
During the dinner, President Putin gave a welcome speech and offered a toast to the two countries’ friendship and President Halimah’s health, according to a Kremlin report.