Putin on the defensive with Angela Merkel

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Russian president Vladimir Putin hit out at visiting German chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday for raising questions about the imprisonment of Pussy Riot, suggesting she was poorly informed about the group.

Germany’s parliament passed a resolution last week that linked Russia’s rolling back of democratic freedoms to Mr Putin’s return to the presidency in May and urged the German government to take a tougher stance in dealing with Russia.

“It won’t make our friendship better if we sweep everything under the carpet and don’t discuss it,” Ms Merkel said.

But Mr Putin asked whether Ms Merkel knew that one of the women had also taken part in a performance-art demonstration where dolls representing migrant workers and homosexuals, one of them also identified as Jewish, were hung from nooses.

The 2008 demonstration was actually in support of those groups, but Mr Putin interpreted it differently.