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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs