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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora