Jochen Luebke / EPA
An eye-opening experience for Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) as he is confronted by a topless demonstrator during a tour of the Hanover Fair in Hanover, Germany, on April 8, 2013. He was accompanied by German Chancellor Angela Merkel (center right) and Volkswagen Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn (extreme right).
Russian President Vladimir Putin laughed off a protest against him by topless women in Germany on Monday, joking that he liked what he had seen while sharply rebuffing German criticism of his human rights record.
Three 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, disrupted his visit to a trade fair in the German city of Hanover focusing on Russian business.
They stripped to the waist and shouted slogans calling the Russian leader a "dictator" before being covered up and bundled away by security men.
Julian Schultenschulte / EPA
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin exchange glances after the incident involving topless demonstrators.
Jochen Luebke / EPA
Security staff stop another topless demonstrator at the Volkswagen stand at the Hanover Fair.
"Regarding this performance, I liked it," grinned Putin at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, adding that it had helped to promote the trade fair though he suggested that the security men could have been "gentler".
"I did not catch what they were shouting, I did not even see if they were blondes, brunettes or chestnut-haired ... 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." Read the full story.
Jochen Luebke / AFP - Getty Images
A demonstrator is held by security staff.
Three topless protesters, members of the women's rights group Femen, disrupt a visit between Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and German chancellor Angela Merkel at a trade fair in Hannover. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.
This story was originally published on Mon Apr 8, 2013 9:12 AM EDTCopyright 2013 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.