Putin provokes criticism with Pussy Riot anti-Semitism charge

MOSCOW Sat Nov 17, 2012 1:59am IST

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel answer journalists' questions during a joint news conference in Moscow's Kremlin November 16, 2012. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel answer journalists' questions during a joint news conference in Moscow's Kremlin November 16, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

Related Topics

Rajalakshmi (C), 28, smiles after winning the Miss Wheelchair India beauty pageant in Mumbai November 26, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Miss Wheelchair India

Seven women from across India participated in the country's second wheelchair beauty pageant, which aims to open doors for the wheelchair-bound in modelling, film and television, according to organisers  Slideshow 

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin provoked angry criticism from bloggers and activists on Friday when he suggested to German Chancellor Angela Merkel that one of the jailed women from the Pussy Riot punk band was anti-Semitic.

Putin made his comments after Merkel made clear she saw the two-year sentences the women were serving for a raucous protest against him in a church as excessive.

"Does she know that before that, one of them had hung an effigy of a Jew and said Moscow needed to get rid of such people?" he told Merkel and other German and Russian delegates at a forum held as part of the Chancellor's visit to Moscow. "We cannot support people taking anti-Semitic positions."

The remarks prompted satire and criticism on social media, with some bloggers and backers of Pussy Riot suggesting he was deliberately twisting the truth to serve his argument.

Putin appeared to be referring to a mock execution staged in a Moscow-area supermarket in 2008 by an activist group called Voina (War), in which at least one of the women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, took part.

Activists dressed to look like non-Slavic migrant workers and other minority groups hung from rafters in an aisle. Some online references to the protest characterised one of them as a Jew.

Pyotr Verzilov, Tolokonnikova's husband and a founder of Voina, said the performance was meant to draw attention to bias in Moscow against minority groups.

"The main question is whether some Putin aides misinformed him - either accidentally or on purpose - or he is aware of the facts and is deliberately misinforming Angela Merkel," Verzilov said.

Putin made similar comments a second time when asked about the remarks at a press conference with Merkel after their talks.

A popular Russian blogger who goes by the name Drugoi posted a message addressed to Merkel saying that Putin "deliberately, or by some unfortunate misunderstanding, misled you".

(Additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Denis Dyomkin; Editing by Pravin Char)

FILED UNDER:

SAARC Summit

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Ferguson Riots

Ferguson Riots

More than 400 arrested as Ferguson protests spread to other U.S. cities   Full Article 

Taiwan Election

Taiwan Election

Taiwan vote tests waters for pro-China govt ahead of presidential polls  Full Article 

Rakhine Plight

Rakhine Plight

Exclusive - Poor and besieged, Myanmar's Rakhine join Rohingya exodus  Full Article 

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola vaccine from Glaxo passes early safety test  Full Article 

Korea Ferry Crew

Korea Ferry Crew

Stigma and isolation haunt S.Korean families of convicted ferry crew  Full Article 

Thanksgiving Pardon

Thanksgiving Pardon

Cheese bests Mac in quest for Obama's Thanksgiving turkey pardon  Full Article 

Hong Kong Protest

Hong Kong Protest

Hong Kong riot police clear protest site, arrest student leaders  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage