Selfie-promotion: Putin welcomes Saudi delegation to Russia, in wake of Khashoggi killing

Selfie-promotion: Putin welcomes Saudi delegation to Russia, in wake of Khashoggi killing
Away from Khashoggi furore, Saudi Arabia's culture minister cosied up to the Russian president at the St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum
2 min read
20 November, 2018
Saudi Arabia's culture cosies up to the Russian strongman [Twitter]
After being shunned by many former allies and business partners over the suspected state-ordered murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia received a warm welcome from Russia's President Vladimir Putin, attending a cultural forum in the country's second city, St Petersburg.

The Saudi Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan posted a grinning selfie of himself cosying up to the Russian leader.

The tweet read: "We accepted the invitation of our friends in Russia to participate in the St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum. It was a great opportunity to further strengthen cultural cooperation and meet with President Vladimir Putin."

Russia has decidedly stayed out of the ongoing furore over the veteran journalist's assassination, coming to Riyadh's defence on occasion. 

Prince Badr bin Abdullah also rubbed shoulders with Italy's Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli, tweeting another selfie  praising the "many opportunities to pursue a strong future for collaboration" between the two countries.

Bonisoli, hinting at the international diplomatic crises sparked by the journalist's murder, emphasised the importance of culture for communication.

"If there are problems between two or more countries, according to their positions, culture is still a way to convey the messages of partnerships, communities, politicians, and sometimes to promote fundamental values," he said, as reported by Arab News.

When dozens of international delegations and businesses pulled out of the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, last month, in the wake of the Khsashoggi scandal, Russia sent an expanded delegation to the Gulf kingdom in order to seek out lucrative business deals.

Russia itself has a history of suspected state-sanctioned killings of journalists critical of its regime. Most recently, investigative journalist Maksim Borodin died after falling from his balcony in Yekaterinburg, in what many suspect was a government initiative made to look like a suicide.

Borodin had been writing about the deaths of hundreds of Russian mercenaries in the so-called "Wagner Group", the private army Moscow is using in Syria. Russia has said only five of its citizens died when the army clashed with US forces, although other media reported scores of deaths.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 58 Russian journalists have been killed in attacks in Russia since 1992.