President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation, who attended a reception at Guild-Hall, i.e. the official residence of the London City's Lord Mayor, praised this official event.
I've visited many countries over the last few years; nonetheless, I haven't seen anything more colorful, Putin said, while addressing an audience at Guild-Hall's Old Library.
According to the Russian leader, the London City had played a great role in forging the British economy, as well as that of the entire world. One simultaneously perceives a feeling of stability, as well as the pulse of everyday life, while visiting the City, Putin went on to say. The City, which boasts long-standing traditions, is also modern place for modern people, Putin noted. The Russian head of state reminded those present that Russia and Great Britain will mark the 450-th anniversary of their diplomatic relations this year. Addressing City aldermen, Putin joked that the Russian fur on their mantles had hardly survived since then.
Talking about present-day interaction between the City and Russia, Putin noted that business contacts were developing particularly effectively in the last few years. Such contacts are largely facilitated by the United Kingdom's political will, as well as by the Queen and the Prime Minister of Great Britain themselves, Putin stressed.
Putin greeted some London Corporation aldermen, after completing his salutatory address. Acting line with the protocol, the aldermen approached an arm-chair, where the President was sitting, and shook his hand. One of them, who was hobbling on crutches, took several steps in Putin's direction; the Russian leader then violated the protocol, moving toward that man. All those present applauded.
The colorful greeting ceremony took place at Guild-Hall's Old Library. Putin was wearing a black frock replete with a white bow-tie. Meanwhile his wife was wearing a light-brown dress with a flower pattern and holding a small bouquet of white flowers.
The reception was attended by members of the official Russian delegation, Prince Michael of Kent and wife, British Defense Secretary Geoffrey Hoon, as well as foreign ambassadors.
RIA Novosti's London office opened a photo exhibition dealing with Russia and Great Britain in the past and today at Guild-Hall on the eve of the Russian leader's state visit to Great Britain.