Merkel, Putin air differences on NGOs

Associated Press
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, attend the opening of the Hannover Fair at the Congress Center in Hannover, Germany, Sunday April 7, 2013. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)
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HANNOVER, Germany (AP) — Germany's leader has pressed home her concerns over Russian controls on non-governmental organizations, telling President Vladimir Putin that they should be able to work freely.

Putin met with Chancellor Angela Merkel at an industry fair in Hannover. The trip highlights Russia's interest in developing foreign trade, including further business ties with Germany.

But ties have been strained lately by the Kremlin's heavy-handed response to opposition groups and pressure on NGOs. Two German think-tanks were among groups targeted in recent searches.

Putin stood his ground, insisting Monday that Russia has a right to know where NGOs' funding comes from and how it is used.

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