SOCHI, May 21. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin greeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel with flowers was prompted by Russian tradition, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday commenting on an article by the German Bild that had lashed out at the gift as an affront to Merkel.
"It is absolutely normal here to give flowers to women," Peskov said. "Also to work colleagues and to vis-·- vis in international relations. It is a sign of good manners here. These are our traditions and we are guided by them," Peskov stressed.
Earlier, Vladimir Shevchenko, the first Russian presidential chief of protocol, told TASS that a bouquet of flowers Putin gave to Angela Merkel was fully in line with the traditions of the Russian head of state’s protocol.
Merkel paid an official visit to Russia on May 18. Putin welcomed Merkel at the entrance to his Bocharov Ruchey residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi with a bouquet of cream-colored roses, freesias and other flowers in pastel colors. The German chancellor welcomed the Russian leader in response, took the flowers and glanced at them several times sizing up the flower arrangement.
Although she showed no discontent at that moment or after the talks, the German tabloid Bild released an article, calling the bouquet "an insult to the dignity" of the chancellor. It maintained that by presenting the flowers, Putin was allegedly trying to emphasize that she was a woman, thus displaying his ‘machoness.