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Papers Reveal Saga of Horse Given to John Major by Turkmenistan

Monday 31 December 2018

LONDON (The Guardian) — The saga of the prime minister’s horse — a stallion called Maksat given to John Major by the then Turkmenistan president, Saparmurat Niyazov — was described as worthy of the Russian dramatist Nikolai Gogol, as UK diplomats battled Moscow bureaucracy at its most surreal, documents show.

Memos released at the National Archives in Kew chart Maksat’s tortuous 3,000 km rail journey from Turkmenistan to Russia, along with another stallion Niyazov gave to the then French president, François Mitterrand.

Major, not knowing what to do with his horse, hoped it could join the Household Cavalry, but British diplomats first had to import it into Russia, clearing customs then quarantine. Advertisement

His private secretary, Roderic Lyne, forwarding a Foreign Office telegram, wrote: “Prime minister. This is [a] wonderful story — worthy of Gogol. You will have to visit the nag when it arrives next year.”


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