• Germany's news in English
 

Merkel tells Putin: Give NGOs a chance

Published: 08 Apr 2013 07:27 GMT+02:00

The two leaders were opening the Hannover industrial trade fair where Russia was the partner country. Dozens of demonstrators protested against Putin's crackdown on NGOs outside the northern German city's convention centre where the opening ceremony was held.

Click here for a photo gallery of the protest (WARNING: NUDITY)

Merkel's statement, made in a much-applauded opening speech, was a direct reference to Russian probes into a number of international NGOs including German think tanks - moves criticized by Moscow's partners.

In an interview with German public television station ARD, broadcast on Sunday, Putin defended the crackdown, arguing that Russians had a right to know which organizations that set up shop in the country were receiving foreign funds "and for what".

In her speech Merkel insisted on the importance of an active civil society in Russia.

"Russia wants to diversify... and we want to help it," she said adding that a key element of the diversification of the economy was innovation.

"We are convinced that this is particularly successful when there is an active civil society," she said.

Outside the Hannover convention centre about 100 demonstrators called on Moscow "to leave the NGOs alone".

The protest was organised by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Putin earlier praised solid German-Russian trade relations which last year totalled a record €74 billion ($96 billion).

"I'm sure that we will soon reach 100 billion," said Putin.

Merkel, who was to dine with Putin after the opening ceremony, said discussions about the conditions under which civil society must be able to work should be pursued.

The chancellor had taken Putin to task during a visit to Moscow in November when she criticized the sentencing of two of the members of punk-rock group Pussy Riot to two years in prison camp after they were convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" in a church performance.

Putin was to join former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder for a birthday bash later Sunday.

Schröder, Merkel's immediate predecessor, turned 69 on Sunday and has long been friends with Putin.

AFP/hc

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Wolf spotted in North Rhine-Westphalia
File photo: DPA

Wolf spotted in North Rhine-Westphalia

Camera traps have spotted a wolf for the second time in a month in North Rhine-Westphalia, the state environment ministry reported on Friday. READ  

German ranchers murdered in Paraguay
Paraguayan police on patrol in an area known to contain EPP rebels. File photo: DPA

German ranchers murdered in Paraguay

The Foreign Ministry in Berlin confirmed that two Germans living in Paraguay were kidnapped and killed earlier this week. READ  

AfD braces for busy conference weekend
"Vote AfD!" reads the flyover message. Photo: DPA

AfD braces for busy conference weekend

As leaders of the Germany's anti-Euro upstart party Alternative for Germany (AfD) prepare for its party conference this weekend, the potential for chaos is rising. READ  

Sudden dose of winter causes traffic chaos
Snow in Oberharz. Photo: DPA

Sudden dose of winter causes traffic chaos

UPDATE: Two people were rescued from avalanches as a blast of winter has taken Germany by surprise, while snow and ice accounted for several traffic accidents across the country on Friday. READ  

BND collects 220 million phone records a day
Photo: DPA

BND collects 220 million phone records a day

Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) collects 220 million pieces of information about foreign phone calls and SMS every day, Zeit Online reported on Friday. READ  

U-turn on minimum wage for foreign drivers
Photo: DPA

U-turn on minimum wage for foreign drivers

Germany temporarily hit the brakes Friday on applying its new minimum wage to foreign truck drivers transiting the country in a move welcomed by Poland, which vigorously opposed the system. READ  

Crises make Germany EU foreign policy leader
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA

Crises make Germany EU foreign policy leader

Foreign policy think-tank the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) gave Germany top marks in its annual check-up of EU member states released on Thursday. READ  

Prost! Beer sales hop up for first gain in 8 years
Photo: DPA

Prost! Beer sales hop up for first gain in 8 years

New figures released Friday by federal statistics office Destatis are numbers breweries can drink to, as German beer consumption saw its first year-on-year rise since 2006. READ  

Germany has thousands of uni spots open
Photo: DPA

Germany has thousands of uni spots open

New research published by Spiegel on Friday shows that there are thousands of university placesa unoccupied across the country, while certain hot spots cope with too much demand. READ  

Borussia coach admits to 'downward spiral'
Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp at a press conference. Photo: DPA

Borussia coach admits to 'downward spiral'

Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp admits feeling the pressure as his side resume their fight to stay in Germany's top flight on Saturday at fellow Champions League side Bayer Leverkusen. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
The rise and spread of Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Photo: DPA
Politics
The Local's report from Pegida's largest ever demonstration.
Sponsored Article
Top-notch tech boosts bilingual schools
National
Six stories that will rock Germany this year
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Photo: DPA
National
What were your favourite news stories of 2014?
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,971
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd