Russia’s Vladimir Putin greeted by pro-LGBT topless protesters in Germany

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Upon arriving in Germany for a trade visit, Russian President Vladimir Putin was greeted by angry LGBT protesters, including a topless rally from the feminist group Femen.

Three members of Femen, a Ukrainian feminist group which protests for human rights, staged a topless protest, interrupting a trade fair in the German city of Hanover.

Painted on their bodies were slogans such as “Putin dictator”, and they shouted that he was a “dictator”, before being bundled away by security.

Saying that the protest had helped to promote the fair, Putin said: “Regarding this performance, I liked it,” at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Rainbow flags across Amsterdam, where Putin also visited, were flown at half mast to mark his arrival, in protest against the proposed bill that would make promotion of homosexuality among youths punishable in Russia.

The Russian State Duma voted 388-1 to support the bill on 25 January. It will return for a second reading later this year.

The progress of the bill has been marked by frequent clashes between the bills supporters and LGBT rights activists, who say if the bill passes people could potentially be fined for as little as kissing their same-sex partner in public, or giving pro-LGBT advice to young people.

Explaining the use of the rainbow flags, a spokesperson for the city council said last month that it “wishes to express its concern with the rainbow flag and the seven districts will ask to do the same. Amsterdam is committed to an open and tolerant city where everyone can be who he is. The flag stands for diversity and gay acceptance.”

Mr Putin is visiting the Dutch capital to showcase the economic ties between the two countries, worth $83 billion in bilateral trade last year.

The Netherlands is Russia’s second largest trade partner after China. The Russian president arrived in the city shortly following a visit to Germany.

TV presenter Stephen Fry recently visited Russia to film a documentary on the problems LGBT people face.

And earlier this month, a poll found that almost a quarter of Russians want ‘compulsory treatment’ for gays and 5% think gay people should be ‘liquidated.’

Members of Femen also took to Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral in celebration of the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, and previously demonstrated during his weekly prayer, in favour of LGBT rights.