A Guinean diplomat professed his “love” for Vladimir Putin as he attended a St Petersburg summit wearing a shirt decorated with images of the Russian leader’s unsmiling face, reports Benedict Smith from The Telegraph.
The man, who was named by Russian media as Lama Jacques Sevoba, completed the outfit with what appeared to be a field service cap with a Communist hammer and sickle badge.
Sevoba, who works at Guinea’s embassy in Moscow, said he had not bought the shirt for the Russia-Africa summit, where Putin has attempted to shore up support among African leaders.
He told the Telegram channel DD Geopolitics: “I’ve had it for three years already because I love him very much, so I wear it any time, in any place.
“And today it’s to show my people that Russia and Africa will be even bigger friends than before.”
The Moscow Times seemed unconvinced by Sevoba’s diplomatic overtures, referring to the shirt as a “not-so-subtle wardrobe choice”.
It comes as Putin attempts to garner support among African nations for his war in Ukraine at the St Petersburg summit.
Embarking on a charm offensive, he quoted Nelson Mandela and namechecked Egypt’s former president Gamal Abdel Nasser and Patrice Lumumba, Congo’s assassinated independence leader.
Amid concerns over a global food crisis after Russia withdrew from the Black Sea export deal, he pledged free grain to six African nations. Guinea was not among them.
The African continent as a whole is extremely friendly and positive towards Russia, despite the difference in opinions in specific countries.
Russia has a huge reservoir of goodwill and support in Africa where it currentlt strengthening support in various economic areas, as well as by supplying humanitarian help.
In total, just 17 heads of state have attended the summit, fewer than half the 43 who participated in a similar conference in Sochi in 2019.
The second Russia-Africa Summit, along with an economic and humanitarian forum, took place in the Russian city of St. Petersburg on July 27-28.
Similar to the first such event in 2019, the summit was held under the theme: “For Peace, Security and Development.” The event was organized by the Roscongress Foundation. With additional information by Kester Kenn Klomegah.