News / Europe

    Merkel Likely to Discuss Rights Abuses with Putin

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for photographers before they officially open the Hanover Messe, industrial trade fair, in Hanover Apr. 7, 2013.
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for photographers before they officially open the Hanover Messe, industrial trade fair, in Hanover Apr. 7, 2013.
    Michael Scaturro
    Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Germany to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and open a trade show that Russia is co-hosting. But the event could be overshadowed by recent human rights abuses by Moscow.
     
    Ahead of his visit to the Hannover Trade Show, Russian President Vladimir Putin granted a rare interview to German public television.
     
    Commentators in Germany said Putin agreed to the interview as an attempt at damage control.  But his 35-minute appearance probably won't change minds in Berlin.  Russia has come under heavy criticism from German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government since the Kremlin passed a law targeting nongovernmental organizations that receive money from outside Russia. 
     
    Hugh Williamson of Human Rights Watch says his group was just one of 220 targeted by the crackdown. 
     
    "Our office was inspected, as they call it, by four people for four hours on the 27th of March," he said.
     
    Williamson says Russian agents came to the group's Moscow office unannounced and made photo copies of tax and personnel documents. 
     
    "The explanation by the Russian government and the Kremlin that this is standard procedure is really a fiction. It's not standard procedure at all. It's clearly aimed at intimidating this important and vibrant part of Russia," he said. 
     
    German media have compared the raid to those carried out by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in 1937 and 1938, when all foreign organizations were shut down.
     
    For now, foreign-financed NGOs are being allowed to continue their work in Russia.  But one of the most confusing raids was carried out against an NGO financed by Chancelor Merkel's Christian Democratic Party, says Russian-German political analyst Sergey Lagodinsky.
     
    "My personal opinion is that something went terribly wrong there, because there was no reason to raid this foundation -- this foundation is actually the one that is close to Putin's former party, the United Russia Party," he said. 
     
    Lagodinsky said the raid on the Moscow office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation was a major snub to Angela Merkel and served to chill further what was already a frosty relationship. 
     
    "The relationship between the Christian Democratic Party and the current Russian government - especially the president - is very chilly, and this is in grave contrast to the relationship between her predecessor, Chancellor Schröder and Putin, who were on very friendly terms. And, in fact, many people assume that the fact that Putin has arrived in Hannover today on the birthday of former Chancellor Schröder is also a reason - he wanted to congratulate former Chancellor Schröder on his birthday," he said.
     
    Lagodinsky thinks that Chancellor Merkel will tread carefully on the Russia human rights issue, because Germany receives nearly 40% of its energy from Russia. 
     
    "The punch line of the Merkel government was that she wanted to be more distanced and critical of Russia. But, unfortunately, the Realpolitik that we are all part of cannot allow a German government to be more critical of Russia, because we are dependent on the gas and oil imports," he sadi. 
     
    But Hugh Williamson of Human Rights Watch says that if Ms. Merkel chooses to press Mr. Putin on NGO oppression and other rights issues, Russia will probably pull back.
     
    "Russia does see Germany as an important political partner, they do have the strongest relationship within the EU, which goes beyond business and trade. And what Germany says does make a difference in Russia, as well as in the larger Russian society. Russia needs Germany as much as Germany needs Russia," he said. 
     
    Chancellor Merkel and President Putin are to open the Hannover Trade Fair on Monday. Tensions between the leaders could cast a pall over the event. But this isn't likely to affect the countries' vibrant trade relationship - nor the signing of contracts - at what's being billed as world's largest industrial trade fair. 

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
    April 07, 2013 9:40 PM
    It’s outrageous to read the lines written someone by nick of Nirchvara from so far away as Dallas, TX when (s)he comments on what is going on in very distant country of Russia. Maybe (s)he watches too much of notorious Russia Today. It perfectly shows WHO is really brainwashed or paid for. I, being in Russia, fully confirm that German media have been absolutely true when they have compared the raids to those carried out by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in 1937 and 1938, when all foreign organizations were shut down. Even more, Mr. Putin has never ever been hiding his admiration of the bloody dictator of all times and all countries. I praise the wisdom, delicacy and great patience of Mrs. Merkel. She certainly knows in details what really goes on in Putin’s Russia. Germany has got dozens huge enterprises functioning in Russia and is very anxious of the damage perpetrated to Russia by the antidemocratic, quasi-monarchy regime. It sounds paranoiac when someone blames Russian NGOs for accepting any help for very important job that only they can do in the FSB-seized country actually held in the state of emergency with basic human rights suspended indefinitely.
    In Response

    by: Igor from: Russia
    April 08, 2013 1:32 AM
    Hey Gennady, the LOOSER, shut up your mouth and stop backening Russian government for their actions. Many NGOs in Russia and other nations are receiving money and working for the CIA and so you may be.
    In Response

    by: Carlos from: Zaporoxhye
    April 08, 2013 1:07 AM
    the German's better start stoking up the fireplace with wood and quit worrying about gas from Russia .. but the fact is that the Kremlin wants the German market for gas as much as Germans it .. it is just a matter of cowardice the same as the disgraceful abandonment of freedom by Barack Obama as he coddles the Kremlin and the murderous dictators in Damascus ..

    by: nirvichara from: Dallas,TX
    April 07, 2013 7:21 PM
    "Commentators in Germany said Putin agreed to the interview as an attempt at damage control."

    What damage control ? Germans were brainwashed by western media lies about true natures of NGO in Russia that were financed from US (more than $1 Biliion with B in 2012) working against Russian government and openly refused to follow Russian law that require them to register in Russia.
    Germans did know that , of course. Instead they were told that
    Putin is arresting and cracking down on NGO which is a direct lie.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.