Putin must hand over his Golden Key to the city of Madrid

by Lorraine Williamson
Putin should not have the key to Madrid

MADRID – Madrid withdraws the Golden Key of the city from Putin. The badge was presented in 2006 by then-mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardón during a state visit by the Russian president to the Spanish capital. 

The parties Más Madrid, PSOE, PP, Ciudadanos, and Grupo Mixto – three councillors from Más Madrid who left the party in 2021 – voted in favour of this petition in the monthly plenary session on Tuesday afternoon. Although Vox is the only one against it, the badge will be permanently revoked. 

“Putin is not someone who deserves this recognition,” Más Madrid spokeswoman Rita Maestre said during a press briefing. Mar Espinar of the PSOE also expressed support for the withdrawal of the Russian president’s gold badge. “The medal must be withdrawn and we will do that,” said Mixed Group spokesman José Manuel Calvo. The Deputy Mayor, Begoña Villacís, from Ciudadanos, took the same line: “I appreciate these initiatives.” 

‘Key was not for Putin, it was for the Russian people’ 

Vox spokesman Javier Ortega Smith called Putin “a communist tyrant” for invading a foreign country. “All the support of our group to the Ukrainian people. However, we will not agree to the withdrawal of Putin’s Golden Key because it was not given to Putin. It was for the Russian people.”  The PP also showed its doubts, although the right-wing conservative party eventually voted in favour. 

The proposal also includes a requirement to guarantee schooling for Ukrainian children arriving in Madrid. They also want refugee families to have the right to housing through the municipal housing and land company (EMVS). Finally, there is a request to central government to gain access to assets that Russian oligarchs have in the capital. 

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Medal awarded in 2006 

On March 8, 2006, 16 years ago, Putin appeared in Madrid City Hall. The Russian president was received by the then-mayor of Madrid, Alberto Ruiz Gallardón. He said: “Madrid does not forget the solidarity of the Russian people with the victims of the terror of a morning in March that broke into the life of our city.” 

Gratitude for the Russian citizens 

Gallardón expressed his gratitude for the gesture of Russian citizens — and the country’s embassy — during the terrorist attacks of Thursday, March 11, 2004. That is why Gallardón presented the Russian President with the Golden Key to the city almost two years later. He did so according to the protocol of the city council. It stipulates that when a head of state makes an official visit to Madrid, the mayor must hand over the golden key. This is an agreement with the Spanish government. 

Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi received the Golden Key in December 2007. “We are happy to see Libya in the international community,” said Gallardon. “We see it as an ally in a world where peace and the rejection of violence (…) are the engines of our daily lives.” 

Awards may be withdrawn for errors 

The Regulations of Honours and Awards of the City Council says in Article 36; “Those who commit errors may be deprived of the awards, regardless of the date of issue”. However, the regulations do not explicitly refer to the golden keys. In June 2009, under these regulations, Franco’s titles of the adopted son, honorary mayor, gold medal, and medal of honour of Madrid were revoked. 

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