Surprise Welcome: Topless Protesters Confront Putin in Germany
Topless protesters caused a scene on Monday when they confronted Vladimir Putin during a state visit to Germany. The Russian president appeared unperturbed by the criticism, smiling and even giving two thumbs up to the bare-breasted activists, who accused him of being a dictator.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was confronted with naked criticism during a state visit to Germany on Monday morning when a group of young women, likely with the women's rights group Femen, surprised officials with a bare-breasted protest.
Putin, who often poses in rather macho staged PR shots, did not appear perturbed by the protest. In fact, journalists captured him smiling and giving two thumbs up as one protester approached. His German counterpart Merkel reacted with open-mouthed surprise.
The protest did not appear to dampen the mood, and Putin remained philosophical. "I don't see anything terrible about it," he said.
Once bodyguards and security personnel had quickly covered up and carried off the protesters, the trade fair tour continued.
Later, the Kremlin wasn't nearly as relaxed about the matter, however. "This is ordinary hooliganism and unfortunately it happens all over the world, in any city. One needs to punish (them)," spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Criticism from Merkel, Too
Putin didn't have to wait long for more criticism, which later came from Merkel, who underlined her opposition to recent raids on non-governmental organizations in Russia. Germany hopes that the work of such foundations will be unhindered in the future, the chancellor said, adding that Germany supports an "active civil society" in the country.
The two leaders also disagreed over the civil war in Syria, with Putin defending weapons deliveries to Bashar Assad's regime. Because Assad runs a legitimate government, doing so does not violate international law, he said. Merkel's response: "In our view the authority of Mr. Assad no longer exists." Still, Russia said it was prepared to participate in international negotiations, saying that weapons deliveries must stop on all sides.
The two leaders did find somethint they could agree on, though, saying that increasingly militant North Korea should show more restraint. "We were very much in agreement that the international community must calmly but clearly appeal to North Korea to end this provocation," Merkel said.
kla -- with wire reports
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