MOSCOW, May 21. /TASS/. The flowers that Russian President Vladimir Putin gave to visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel as a gift fully correspond to the traditions of Russian presidential protocol, Chief of Protocol of the First Russian President, Vladimir Shevchenko, told TASS when asked for a comment about the media hype gripping Germany that the Russian leader’s gesture was insulting for the German head of state.
Shevchenko, who is one of the founders of modern Russia’s presidential protocol, angrily dismissed journalists’ suspicions.
"It is an official custom and rule to present a lady with a bouquet of flowers regardless of whether it is a working meeting or not," Shevchenko pointed out.
"It is part of our protocol," he stressed. "If some do not like it, then they should feel free to think of giving their own gifts," he said, adding that the department of Russian presidential protocol did not need anyone’s advice or comments.
Shevchenko recalled that Putin and Merkel were old-time acquaintances and shared a good personal relationship.
"They share friendly relations that go way back. That is a fact. But had another lady holding the position of a head of state but not so well acquainted with Putin or having a more formal relationship with him arrived on a visit, she would have been welcomed with flowers anyway," he affirmed.
Shevchenko lamented that those journalists who sparked these rumors in the media often tried to dig up some hidden meaning there where there was none.
"Something strange has been going on in the mass media now and again. They are in steady pursuit of digging up something offensive," he stressed. "This time they failed to think up anything and decided to make much ado about nothing from a lady being presented with a bunch of flowers," Shevchenko said, adding that this kind of attitude looked imbecilic to him. "Possibly, using the word ‘frau’ to address the German chancellor is wrong, too, so should we think of something else instead?" Shevchenko asked.
Merkel paid an official visit to Russia on May 18. Putin met her on the doorstep of his countryside residence Bocharov Ruchey and handed her a bouquet of flowers. Although the German side expressed no discontent either at that moment or after the talks, the German tabloid Bild published an article claiming that the flowers were an insult to the chancellor’s dignity. The newspaper said that by giving Merkel flowers as a gift Putin tried to emphasize her womanhood, thus putting the focus on his own superiority.