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

Photogallery US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid