Ukraine-Russia crisis: Remembering the day Russian president Vladimir Putin came to East Lothian

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Thirty years ago Russian president Vladimir Putin – then a key aide to the Mayor of Leningrad (now St Petersburg) – was part of an official trade delegation to visit East Lothian.

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The trip included the signing of an accord and a visit to a bakery in Prestonpans.

It was 1991 – a tumultuous year which saw Soviet reformer Mikhail Gorbachev forced out of the presidency – and Mr Putin was head of the Committee for External Relations of the Mayor's Office, with responsibility for promoting international relations and foreign investments and registering business ventures.

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1991 visit: Vladimir Putin (standing) with East Lothian Council chairman George Wanless (left) and Mayor of Leningrad Anatoly Sobchak.1991 visit: Vladimir Putin (standing) with East Lothian Council chairman George Wanless (left) and Mayor of Leningrad Anatoly Sobchak.
1991 visit: Vladimir Putin (standing) with East Lothian Council chairman George Wanless (left) and Mayor of Leningrad Anatoly Sobchak.

He accompanied the Mayor, Anatoly Sobchak, on the visit to East Lothian.

And as well as signing an agreement with East Lothian Council chairman George Wanless, the trade delegation also visited Ford's bakery in Prestonpans, reportedly with the aim of clinching a deal to set up a similar factory in Leningrad.

Former bakery director Peter Ford, who later became a Tory councillor, did not want to talk about the visit yesterday.

But he previously recalled how Mr Putin, then nine years away from becoming Russian president, made a bee-line for a plate of chocolate biscuits and pocketed some.

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Mr Ford was quoted as saying: "Putin spotted a plate of Penguin biscuits on the table, went over, picked up a handful and had them in his jacket pocket in a flash. He didn't even look around to see if anyone was watching and carried on as though nothing had happened. When he left you saw the Penguins sticking out of his pocket. It was really funny."

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