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Monday, 6 August, 2001, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
Kim Jong-il's Russian odyssey
Kim Jong-il and Russian President Vladimir Putin
Kim Jong-il met Russian President Vladimir Putin
By Russian affairs analyst Stephen Dalziel

Kim Jong-il may be known in North Korea as the "Dear Leader", but he has done nothing on his trip to Russia to endear himself to the locals.


As if to emphasise that the Russians had had enough of the visit, the train arrived with a broken window

Kim's fear of flying meant that he set out on his foreign visit by train.

When he made his two other visits, both to China, this was not too onerous.

But the journey from Pyongyang to Moscow took nine days, making it the longest official journey ever undertaken by a head of state.

Armoured train

Few state visits can ever have been surrounded by such tight security.

Much to the annoyance of thousands of Russians along Kim's route through Siberia, roads and stations were closed as the specially-built armoured train rolled through.

Yaroslavsky railway station in Moscow
The preparations caused large delays for commuters
And there was commuter chaos in Moscow on Friday evening, when Muscovites were trying to take advantage of the warm summer weather to get away for the weekend.

All trains in and out of Yaroslavsky Station, where Kim arrived shortly before 10pm, had been suspended for nearly three hours.

Moscow's relief became frustration for the residents of St Petersburg on Monday, when Kim's train rolled into town, causing more hassle for those trying to get to work.

As if to emphasise that the Russians had had enough of the visit, the train arrived with a broken window - apparently caused by a stone, perhaps thrown by an angry Muscovite.

Rained off

Kim's first action in St Petersburg did little to improve the mood among Russians.

He was due to visit the Piskarevskoye Cemetery, where an estimated half a million people are buried, all of whom died in the 900-day siege of Leningrad, as the city was then called, during the Second World War.

Kim Jong-il at St Petersburg's Hermitage Museum
Kim Jong-il at the Hermitage Museum after rescheduling his trip
It is not only St Petersburg's, but one of Russia's most sacred sites. But the weather intervened. It was raining. So the Dear Leader decided that it would be more appropriate to keep under cover, and he visited the city's Hermitage Museum instead.

Kim leaves St Petersburg to travel back to Moscow on Tuesday evening. His armoured train will then begin the long journey back through Siberia, with one stop scheduled for Novosibirsk.

Don't be surprised if he decides not to get off the train. And don't be surprised either if the locals don't flock to see him in their thousands.

It may be one of the most bizarre visits ever by a head of state. But rarely, too, will the hosts be so glad to see their guest go home.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Stephen Dalziel
"Kim's travels have already caused huge disruption to thousands of Russians"
See also:

04 Aug 01 | Media reports
Kim's visit annoys Russian press
04 Aug 01 | Media reports
Russian-North Korean Declaration: Excerpts
01 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Kim goes on Siberian walkabout
25 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Kim takes slow route to Moscow
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