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Putin meets protest incident during visit in Germany


10:55, April 09, 2013

BERLIN, April 8 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin was confronted with protesters during his tour with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a trade fair in Hanover on Monday.

Topless female protesters with anti-Putin slogans written on their back ran toward Putin but were swiftly carried off by bodyguards and security personnel.

Merkel and Putin were attending the Hanover Trade Fair where Russia serves as this year's guest country. Their trade fair tour continued after the incident.

A Kremlin spokesman later called the protest hooliganism that should be punished.

Putin's state visit to Germany came at a time of strained relations between the two countries mainly over Kremlin's recent pressure on non-governmental organizations. Russian authorities launched investigations and raided the Russian offices of Germany's Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

Merkel said at the opening of the fair on Sunday night that a strong civil society enhances economic modernization in Russia.

"We must deepen this discussion, further develop our mutual understanding," said Merkel, vowing to give nongovernmental organizations "a good chance."

Speaking at the opening of the trade fair, Putin said the invitation to Russia as this year's partner country was a "sign of recognition for our mutual cooperation and estimation of Russia's potential."

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