Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were confronted by Femen activists in Hanover, Germany.
Femen activists, who strip off to highlight a range of issues, including women’s rights, press freedom and domestic violence were dragged kicking and screaming from the premises by security guards.
As one women tried to push through to Vladimir Putin she was blocked by his aides – her back was painted with words directed against the Russian president.
The members of the women’s rights group Femen, which has staged protests against Russia’s detention of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot around Europe, appeared as Vladimir Putin visited a trade fair in Hanover with Angela Merkel.
They stripped off to the waist and shouted slogans calling Vladimir Putin a “dictator” before being covered up and bundled away by security men.
However, a smiling Vladimir Putin shrugged off the protest and said: “As for the action, I liked it.”
“You should be grateful to the girls, they are helping you make the fair more popular.”
But Angela Merkel was not amused, saying: “Whether one has to resort to such an emergency measure in Germany and can’t say one’s piece some other way, I have my doubts.”
It seems that the Kremlin were not so impressed by the demonstration as Vladimir Putin.
“This is ordinary hooliganism and unfortunately it happens all over the world, in any city. One needs to punish [them],” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Vladimir Putin’s arrival at the trade fair on Sunday also drew protesters, some of whom were dressed in striped prison uniforms.
“Stop political terror,” read one banner.
Angela Merkel told Vladimir Putin in a speech at the fair on Sunday that Russia needed “an active civil society” including freedom for non-governmental organizations, after a wave of controversial state inspections of foreign-funded NGOs in Russia.
The German chancellor had promised to raise what she called “controversial subjects” with the Russian leader, after coming under pressure to voice Berlin’s unease over the crackdown on NGOs, Moscow’s support of the Syrian government and its criticism of the German-orchestrated financial bailout of Cyprus.
Femen was founded in Kiev in 2008 to protest against Ukraine’s booming sex industry. At their first demonstration members appeared clothed carrying banners reading “Ukraine is not a brothel!”.
Femen has since gone from strength to strength with 150,000 members worldwide and branches across Europe and even in highly conservative countries such as Egypt.