Merkel Slams Putin—to His Face—Over Pussy Riot

They really deserved 2 years in a labor camp? she asks

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 16, 2012 6:02 PM CST

(Newser) – Usually, joint public appearances involving heads of state are filled with small talk and diplomatic niceties. Not so today with Germany's Angela Merkel and Russia's Vladimir Putin as the two sparred over the jail sentence handed down to punk rockers Pussy Riot in Moscow, reports the Guardian.

  • Merkel: "I don't know whether the two women should have been sent to a prison. I don't know whether the same would have happened to them in Germany. ... You should really spend two years in a labor camp for it?"
  • Putin: "We hear what our partners say. But do they, being so far away, hear about what's going on? Mrs Chancellor spoke about the girls jailed for their performance in a church. Does she know that one of them had hanged a Jew in effigy and said that Moscow should be rid of such people?" he asked. "Neither we, nor you, can support people who assume an anti-Semitic position."

So what on earth is Putin talking about? Reuters explains that he's apparently referring to an old performance by a group named Voina—which included two members of Pussy Riot—in which the band staged mock hangings. The thing is, Putin seems to have gotten it exactly backward. The band was protesting that the government didn't do enough to protect migrant workers, including Jews. As a result, Putin's "comment quickly became the object of satire on social media," says the news service.

Russian President Vladimir Puti speaks to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Moscow Friday.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russia's Vladimir Putin speak in Moscow Friday.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
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