It was supposed to have been a routine stroll through a German Trade Show. What German Chancellor V Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin got however was an eyeful of naked female breasts as four FEMEN protesters rushed the area as the Chancellor and Mr. Putin were about to take in a presentation of a new Volkswagen model.
Later the Russian President told reporters, “...I could not understand what they were shouting because the security rushed in aggressively. Large guys jumped on the girls. I don’t think it is right, they could have been treated more gently.”
The women were chanting “dictator” and were quickly removed by security guards. Mr Putin apparently enjoyed what he saw at the trade show prompting some journalists to ask whether he was referring to the naked protestors or to the trade show. “As for the protest, I liked it. In principle, we knew that such a protest was being prepared” replied the Russian President. He went on to say, “You should be grateful to the girls, they are helping you make the fair more popular.”
In a speech the previous day Chancellor Merkel challenged Mr. Putin’s human rights record, saying that he needed to tolerate protests and dissent as functions vital to democracy and to allow non-government organizations to operate freely within Russia. President Putin responded by claiming that almost $1 Billion had been deposited into NGO accounts from sources abroad in the first four months of 2013. Mr. Putin has long feared that Western sources are attempting to fund protest and revolution activities in Russia.
Groups like Amnesty International have posted signs around Hanover to protest the presence of Mr. Putin. The Hanover Trade Fair runs through April 12 and is a joint sponsorship of Russia and Germany to stimulate trade between the two countries. Russia provides more than 40 percent of Germany’s natural gas and one third of its crude oil production.