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German prize for Putin stirs controversy

AFP · 10 Jul 2011, 14:41

Published: 10 Jul 2011 14:41 GMT+02:00

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The Quadriga Prize, bestowed on the anniversary of German reunification on October 3, is a private award that recognises "role models for enlightenment, dedication and the public good," the Werkstatt Deutschland organisation said.

Its board of trustees is comprised of top officials from across the political spectrum, journalists and business executives.

Previous winners include European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, former Czech president Vaclav Havel and Serbian President Boris Tadic.

Werkstatt Deutschland spokesman Stephan Clausen confirmed reports that Putin would accept the prize in Berlin.

However he admitted that the board's choice was a matter of "heated debate," with Greens party leader Cem Özdemir abstaining in the vote, which nevertheless garnered a majority for Putin.

"Reliability paired with staying power, dependability paired with the ability to communicate make up the character and personality of Vladimir Putin," the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung quoted the organisation as writing in its report on the selection of Putin.

"He has created and is creating stability in his country with the interplay of prosperity, business and national identity."

But the front-page article said: "Russian human rights activists and intellectuals would hardly recognise the Moscow strongman in this statement."

The Tagesspiegel newspaper wrote in an editorial Sunday that the ex-KGB agent had never broken with his past in the secret services and had established a new authoritarian system.

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"Putin continuously consolidated his power in the last 11 years," it said. "The supposed stability (in Russia under Putin) has a high price: less freedom, less democracy ... This award is not only for Russian rights activists a slap in the face."

Putin entered the Kremlin as president in 2000 and remained until 2008. In that time, the state wrested back control of major media outlets, subjected rights groups to a wave of new restrictions and dealt harshly with perceived opponents.

He now serves as prime minister and has remained the country's most popular politician. Neither he nor current President Dmitry Medvedev have said which of them will run in presidential elections scheduled for March.

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Your comments about this article

15:44 July 10, 2011 by hOU
Putin's a corrupt tyrant, you either see it plainly - or you don't.
16:03 July 10, 2011 by FIUMAN
Giving an award for enlightenment to Tsar Putin is an outrage. This man is as enlightened as the dark side of the moon. Yet, I am reminded that Germany is trying all so hard to play the traditional role that Turkey played in the last decades of the 20th Century. Friend of the US but not friend of the US. What will it be, Germany? Suck up to tyrants, like Tsar Putin or get your gas shut off, or suck up to the Americans and actually have to cough up REAL money for the defense of Germany? Hmm, it seems the smart move is to do both. Avoid annoying MORAL discussions of Germany not participating in the Libya action, supplying MBT to Saudi Arabia and sucking up to every despotic regime from Russia to Iran while at the same time speaking with forked tongues to the Americans about fidelity and security? I,for one, understand the triangulation Germany is trying to make. The EU is collapsing. Germany is beginning to make foreign policy as if there is no EU. On the other hand Germany had better think twice about lying in beds with dogs like Putin lest they end up with his fleas....
16:25 July 10, 2011 by harcourt
This is unbelievable, is it because he speaks German. With friends like Putin who needs enemies. No prizes for guessing the next President of Russia (again) !!!
16:44 July 10, 2011 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
This is a ploy to get him out of Russia and arrest him on human rights violations, right? Because otherwise, this is a sick joke.
17:26 July 10, 2011 by strahlungsamt
Damn Right!

When Putin came to power in 2000, Russia was a laughing stock. The economy was run by Wall Street interests (who Yeltzin gave a blank check to do whatever they wanted). The Chechens were terrorizing Russia who was not able to fight back properly.

Fast forward to 2008. Russia kicks Georgian A$$ in Osetia. The Chechen war is all but dead, been pretty quiet since that school siege in 2002 (compare that to Bush's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq). Not to mention, holding on to Russia's oil and gas reserves AND keeping George Soros' ripoff revolutions out.

Is Putin a Fascist? Sure! But he's also up against a bunch of thieves, terrorists and mafia. You can't negotiate with these people using peaceful means. Not to mention, no Israel pulling the strings. Ever hear of the Patriot Act????

Also, did I mention, Russian's economy has been growing every year since Putin took office in 2000?

How has the American economy compared??? Biggest unemployment since the Depression???? 2 unwinnable wars?? $14,000,000,000,000 debt???
19:29 July 10, 2011 by marimay
Russia is still a laughing stock.
19:59 July 10, 2011 by bernie1927

I do agree with you. You analyze the situation correctly. Putin would not be the right person for every country but he is definitely the right person for Russia. That country has made great strides under him and he is deserving of the honor - in my humble opinion.
21:19 July 10, 2011 by harcourt
Now it all makes sense, I mean Germanys stance on Libya. If you hold Putin in such high esteem you also obviously have a high regard for Gadaffi !!!
21:33 July 10, 2011 by whpmgr
OK, strahlungsamt, has some points. Russia is a tough cookie to crack and needs a hard hand. BUT, the rest of the world doesnt. If Prime Minister Putin would keep his hands in Russia, that would be fine. It appears he is trying to revivie teh cold war again, and is working hard at getting his sphere of influence back. He is looking like a nice guy to conquer the russian baddies, but he is also working hard at getting russian nuclear and military strength set up over the entire world. How long before he has troops and advisors in South America? How much has he helped Iran cuase problems for teh west?

Will all of you putin lovers still love him when he starts oppressing the poor islamist extremists? Did he not order the killing -via radio active material, of a media oponent when that oponent was in the UK?

Are you all ready fro Cold War Part II? I do not think that Germany had any other erason except to suck up to Putin, as they know fuill well what he is capable of. But even if he has done good for his country, will he do well fr the US?
22:09 July 10, 2011 by wood artist
"role models for enlightenment, dedication and the public good"

Well, let's see. Enlightenment? Hmmmm. Probably not the first thing that pops into the mind. He's enlightened enough to know he had to find some other way than the ballot box to stay in power, so he simply got a puppet elected to replace him and took the job as puppet-master. As far as his people go...not so much.

He violently put down legitimate and mostly-peaceful uprisings in states that had no desire to remain Russian dominated. In fact, he makes most of the Arab Spring rulers look pretty good by comparison. Rather than acknowledge that the states forced to become Russian vassals during the good old USSR days might want to become free, he smashed them.

Dedicated? Heck yes. He's dedicated to whatever keeps him in power, and he well remembers his good old days in the KGB. Yup, dedicated he is.

Public Good? Well, as long as it's public good for the few rich friends, it's good. Sort like the American Republicans, but with a strange accent.

In short, he wouldn't have been my pick. Not sure who I'd recommend, but it wouldn't have been him.

23:19 July 10, 2011 by jg.
Russian government may be corrupt at all levels but Putin remains popular with the Russian electorate. Putin regularly achieves approval ratings that are unheard of amongst Western politicians. For those of you who believe that it must all be fixed, try asking some Russians what they think of Putin.
23:23 July 10, 2011 by Carlos Hausner
Putin has got Germany by the balls, or rather gas taps. Why wouldn't you give him a medal? It would be most apposite if you got the greasy Gerhard Schröder to present it to him.
00:01 July 11, 2011 by lunchbreak
The germans (sigh).

The only prize they should be awarding someone like Putin is a prize for dogcatcher.
06:01 July 11, 2011 by hOU
If you think Putin is good for Russia then you know f*ck all about Russia & the conditions ordinary Russians have to deal w/ day in - day out.

Ha ha! Anyone care to outline the Russian social state for me, please?

Putin's a bird that sh*ts in his own nest.
07:28 July 11, 2011 by harcourt
Carlos: #12

Absolutely couldn't agree with you more !!
11:48 July 11, 2011 by freechoice
well at least they don't give him a Nobel Peace Prize like Yassar Arafat. when humanity can see some good in 'evil', maybe there will be peace?
12:01 July 11, 2011 by ValP
marimay, if Russia is a laughing stock, then you are - excuse my French... eh... I mean Russian - an idiot
14:30 July 11, 2011 by AirForceGuy
This from the same mentality that brought us the Third Reich...
16:24 July 11, 2011 by Joe Wutbürger
Germany has got to keep on the sweet side of the Alpha Rat because we're gonna need his gas when the atomic lights go out. Love the idea of Gauner Schröder presenting the prize, if he can find the time in between counting his rubels.
18:11 July 11, 2011 by michael4096
@AirForceGuy -

"This from the same mentality that brought us the Third Reich..."

What is the chance of having a post - any post on any topic - that some richard@wc.boat doesn't use to bring up ancient history?
19:39 July 11, 2011 by neunElf
I wonder what the 21 journalists murdered under the reign of Putin would think about this award?
01:10 July 12, 2011 by lunchbreak
@ michael4096

Not much of a chance seeing how it ain't ancient history and both germany and russia are synonymous with genocides perpetrated just a few short years ago in my lifetime . Good luck trying to get us to forget about it.
09:17 July 12, 2011 by harcourt
lunchbreak #22

You are absolutely right. There are so many cases where modern day cultures do not forget wrongdoings perpetrated in ancient times. Take for example The Crusades, Turkish occupation of Greece, The Rape of Nanjing, possibly the Norman invasion of Britain, the list goes on and on. If I were to mention more it would probably prompt a deluge of comments. I'll end on a lighter note, I don't think the British have any hostility towards Italy for the Roman invasion and occupation!!
13:18 July 12, 2011 by lunchbreak
You miss the point harcourt. The holocaust didn't happen in the middle ages, it happened in my lifetime. If the British don't have any hostility towards the Romans in might be because there are few accounts of that invasion. On the other hand we have a LOT of accounts of how beastly the germans behaved during the last war, both towards their own civilians and towards the conquered populace and opposing servicemen. The germans may not have invented brutality but they certainly refined it to high art under the nazis.
13:52 July 12, 2011 by harcourt
lunchbreak I didn't miss your point. Firstly I started off by agreeing with you , does that go for nothing! May be I should re-phrase it, I hope this works :- " Because acts of barbarism perpetrated centuries ago are still remembered by some countries/religions how can the Germans expect the peoples of Europe etc. to forget what was done so recently, in historical terms ". I think you are (as I am) so used to comments in these columns saying lets forget the past and move on that you don't recognise an ally when you read one!!
18:21 July 12, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
The Russian people allow a tyrant to govern them almost autonomously because that is what they are used to. Almost 90 years of communism has left the vast majority without the will (or sometimes the capability) the think critcally. They feel that they need a strong, authorative president (or prime minister - what's the difference? It's all under Putin's control!). I don't think Russia or Russians are ready for democracy.
14:50 July 13, 2011 by bernie1927
@Jack Kerouac

Exactly my point. And maybe they've got something. Look at us: We are standing at the abyss and "Nero" (the Republicans) is fiddling and the opposition has only one wish, namely to make sure that Obama gets only one term. Never mind the National debt, that is for the kids and Grand kids to take care of. So, this kind of democracy isn't so great, after all.
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