German Group Rescinds Humanitarian Award to Russia’s Putin

Posted July 16th, 2011 at 3:25 pm (UTC-5)
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A private German foundation has rescinded a humanitarian award it planned to give Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin after a widespread furor erupted over his democratic credentials.

The Werkstatt Deutschland on Saturday cited “massive criticism” in media and political circles in saying that it had decided not to give its Quadriga award to Putin, a former KGB spy once stationed in East Germany. The award is named Quadriga after the sculpture of a chariot drawn by four horses that sits atop Berlin's famed Brandenburg Gate.

Two former award winners — Czech playwright and former president Vaclav Havel and Danish artist Olafur Eliasson — were among those who condemned the selection of Mr. Putin as one of four 2011 winners. Eliasson, last year's winner, turned in his award in protest and Havel said he would as well if Putin was honored.

The award is given annually to recipients considered to be role models for and from Germany, people whose courage leads to increased freedom. Russian opposition groups say that Mr. Putin, during his presidency from 2000 to 2008, undermined civil liberties, while both the United Nations and the United States have criticized Russia's human rights record.