Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Tunisia's Parliament votes on new Government

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

French court rules #burkini ban "clearly illegal"

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Biden in Turkey, Colombia Peace Deal, Ethiopia Olympic Protest (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Earthquake in Italy, French Burkini Ruling (part 1)

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

The hidden secrets of Les Invalides

Read more

FOCUS

Pro-Opposition stronghold Port-Gentil feverishly awaits presidential elections

Read more

ENCORE!

Alexis Michalik: treading the boards in the footsteps of 'Edmond'

Read more

REPORTERS

Getting away with murder in DR Congo

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Why does Italy refuse to see the seismic risk?'

Read more

Europe

Merkel pressures Putin on NGOs in Russia

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-04-08

German Chancellor Angela Merkel appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday to “give a chance” to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) following Moscow’s decision to launch a crackdown on several NGOs.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to "give a chance" to non-governmental organisations which she described as a "motor of innovation".

The two leaders were opening the Hanover industrial trade fair, with dozens of demonstrators protesting against Putin's crackdown on the NGOs outside the northern German city's convention centre where the opening ceremony was held.

Russia is the fair's partner country this year.

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 criticised 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 organisations 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 Hanover convention centre about 100 demonstrators rallied peacefully calling 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 euros ($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 space in 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 criticised the condemnation of two of the members of punk-rock group Pussy Riot to two years in prison camp for anti-Putin hooliganism motivated by religious hatred in a church performance.

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

Schroeder, Merkel's immediate predecessor, turned 69 on Sunday.
 

(AFP)

Date created : 2013-04-08

  • RUSSIA

    Russian MPs pass controversial bill to label NGOs 'foreign agents'

    Read more

  • RUSSIA

    Russia moves to label rights groups as ‘foreign agents’

    Read more

COMMENT(S)