Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted he "liked" the topless protesters
he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel encountered while touring an industrial fair in Hanover Monday.
The women, who appeared to be representing the feminist Ukrainian group Femen, were stripped to the waist and painted with the slogan "f*** dictator."
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"As for the protest, I liked it," Putin said at a press conference after the fair. The event's organizers should "say thank you to the Ukrainian girls, they helped you promote the trade fair," he said.
On its Facebook page, Femen said the protest was an "anti-dictatorial attack on Putin." The group criticized the Kremlin, Russia's Federal Security Service, and the Russian Orthodox Church, saying that Femen was against "dictatorship, homophobia, and theocracy."
The protesters were eventually covered up and led away by security personnel.
"I did not catch what they were shouting, I did not even see if they were blondes, brunettes, or chestnut-haired," Putin said. "I don't see anything terrible in [the protest], though I think if someone wants to debate political questions, then it’s better to do it clothed rather than getting undressed. You should undress in other places, such as on nudist beaches."
Past Femen protests have included the burning of a Salafist flag in front of the Grand Mosque in Paris and chopping down an Orthodox cross with a chainsaw.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the protesters should be punished.
"This is ordinary hooliganism and unfortunately it happens all over the world, in any city. One needs to punish them," Peskov said in a statement.
Putin was visiting Germany to open the fair and to sit down with Merkel to discuss economic ties between the two countries.
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