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Freiberg's mayor promotes dialogue with Russia

Sven Krüger (independent), mayor of Freiberg / Photo: Robert Michael/dpa
Sven Krüger (independent), mayor of Freiberg / Photo: Robert Michael/dpa

Freiberg's mayor Sven Krüger has defended his controversial appearance at a lavish ball in St. Petersburg, Russia. On the one hand, help is needed for war refugees, and on the other hand, dialogue is needed to reach peaceful solutions, the nonpartisan local politician said Thursday at a city council meeting. "I am promoting both ways." This war should not become a permanent state, he said. "Peace is what would help the people of Ukraine and Russia the most."

In a personal statement, Krüger invoked the Unesco charter. He had said in his greeting that for him culture and science are the bridge that will bring people together again. He had not meant to hurt anyone with his words, Krüger assured. "Insofar as this has happened, I would like to say sincerely that I am sorry."

Krüger had given a greeting at the ball in August and had been announced there as mayor. He stressed in the City Council several times that it had been a privately paid trip, with the goal of friends to meet and continue talks with Gorni University to a planned memorial. He had been invited at short notice by Hans-Joachim Frey.

Frey was a long-time organizer of the Dresden Semper Opera Ball. Last year, he was replaced after quarrels about medal awards. The ball, to which the Semper Opera rented its premises, had come into the twilight, among other things, because of medal awards to Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2009 and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2020. Putin had been the so-called Order of St. George after the attack on Ukraine again withdrawn.

In his speech at the ball Krüger had avoided the word war, which has met with sharp criticism. Rather, the mayor had spoken of "difficult times". In addition, he had referred to the long relations between his city and St. Petersburg, as well as culture and science as the key "for a good cooperation between our two great nations."

City councilors of several parties had demanded in a motion an explanation of Krüger to the appearance. At the ball he was clearly announced as mayor, it said. An explanation was demanded as to why he had not informed the city council beforehand and why no debate took place there.

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