Medvedev blasts German group for taking back Putin award

By IANS/RIA Novosti,

Moscow : Russian President Dmitry Medvedev blasted a German non-profit organisation for reversing its decision to award Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin with the Quadriga prize.

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Werkstatt Deutschland, a Berlin-based organisation dropped its plans to award the prestigious prize to all four nominees in 2011 because its plans to give Putin the prize as a “role model for enlightenment, dedication and the public good” had come under massive attack in the media and from the political community.

“I believe that any public organisation awarding prizes may choose who to award and who not, who to like and who not. But if the decision was made, it should be implemented. Otherwise, this is a display of cowardliness and inconsistency,” Medvedev said in Hannover after a Russian-German inter-governmental consultation.

Putin was to be honoured for his contribution to Russia’s “stability through the interaction between prosperity, economics and identity”, as well as to the reliability of German-Russian ties.

But many German public figures protested the plan, saying his human rights record made him an unacceptable candidate.

The prize, a small statue of a quadriga – a chariot pulled by four horses – on top of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, was to have been bestowed upon the Russian prime minister Oct 3, the Day of German Unity.

Putin served with the KGB in East Germany for five years until German reunification in 1990.

Several Quadriga board members – including Cem Ozdemir, a co-chair of the German opposition Green party, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and history professor Edgar Wolfrum – withdrew from the board protesting the decision.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and former Czech president Vaclav Havel have won the award in the past.

Havel said he would return his award if Putin received one this time.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel denied any comment on the award withdrawal.

“The Quadriga prize issue is not a topic for me to say anything. This should just be taken notice of,” she said.