A group of topless protesters made Russian President Vladimir Putin laugh.
Three members of the women’s rights group, Femen, stripped from the waist up, painted slogans on themselves and called the Russian leader a “dictator” to his face in Germany on Monday, Reuters reports.
"Regarding this performance, I liked it," Putin said while smiling at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He later added, “I don't see anything terrible in (the protest), though I think ... it is better to be dressed if one wants to discuss political matters."
The incident was captured on video and shows the topless women charging toward Putin, who was standing next to Merkel in front of a Volkswagen display at a trade fair in Hanover.
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The women screamed “Fuck Dictator” among other slogans, their bodies marked in black with slogans and got close to Putin before being subdued by security. The confrontation was aggressive, the women thrashed at the body guards and both were pulled to the ground before being taken away.
The members were protesting the detention of the anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot whose members have been sentenced to two years in a Siberian prison for staging an anti-Putin protest inside a cathedral in Moscow, AP reports. Their arrest has drawn criticism from around the world as Putin strengthens his grip on dissenters.
“FEMEN calls Russia to scream ‘Go to hell, dictator,’” the group posted on its Facebook page about the recent protest. “No dictatorship, homophobia and theocracy. Fuck Kreml, FSB, Russion Ortodox Church and other groups of offenders.”
The group says the “sextremists” have been arrested.
This wasn’t the only set of protesters to confront Putin on Monday. The Russian president visited Amsterdam where he was welcomed with a slew of rainbow flags flying around the Dutch city and a major protest has been planned, AP reports.
"Putin go homo," read one banner draped along the canal city, Reuters reports. More than 3,300 people signed up to protest in front of Amsterdam's Hermitage Museum, making it one of the biggest demonstrations for COC, the world's oldest gay rights group.
The demonstrations come on the heels of a Russian bill that can fine individuals up to $16,000 for hosting gay public events and sharing information relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities to minors. The bill was tentatively approved in January and is awaiting Putin’s signature to become law.
Putin remains unfazed by the protests.
“We’ve all got used to these demonstrations and I don’t see anything terrible here,” he said at a press conference in Hanover.