Reynolds tells of Yeltsin's favours after Shannon snub

Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds managed to extract two favours out of the late Russian president Boris Yeltsin in return for famously snubbing him at Shannon Airport in 1994, it emerged today.

Tributes were paid to Mr Yeltsin, 76, who led his nation for most of the 90s after succeeding Mikhail Gorbachev.

He engineered the final collapse of the Soviet Union and helped his country to embrace democracy and consumerism.

However, the Russian leader may be best remembered in Ireland for failing to emerge from his private jet as Mr Reynolds waited to greet him on the Shannon Airport tarmac.

The former Co Longford TD said he later met Mr Yeltsin at a EU summit in Sweden and the Russian president felt guilty enough about his behaviour to fast-track solutions to problems with airports that Aer Rianta was having in Russia.

Mr Reynolds explained: "Within two weeks, the two problems were solved. That would be unknown out of Russia at the time."

"I like to hear anybody see that they could get a problem with the government in Russia solved and back to me in Dublin in 10 days. I don't think it would happen in the normal sense."

Mr Yeltsin visited Ireland again last year for a three-day private visit during which he went shark fishing off the West Coast.

Recalling the 1994 incident, Mr Reynolds said: "I had come direct from Australia, all night and the whole morning.

"I was hoping he would get off quick. I offered to go up on the flight to see him because I was told he was still asleep.

"I wasn't told he had a few too many. It was up to yourself to read between the lines if you wanted to."

Mr Reynolds later met Mr Yeltsin at an EU summit in Sweden when the colourful leader blamed his officials for not rousing him from his slumber.

"I started smiling and I think he got the message," Mr Reynolds said today.

During last August's visit, Mr Yeltsin visited the Cliffs of Moher and Inis Oirr, the smallest of the Aran Islands, for lunch.

Locals said the former politician was frail and needed help alighting from the boat.

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