Amnesty protests against Putin during Finland visit
Amnesty International on Tuesday urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to respect human rights following a recent crackdown on activists and the opposition.
Putin was to meet with Finnish President Sauli Niinistoe in Finland's southwestern town of Turku on Tuesday for talks on bilateral and Russia-EU issues.
Amnesty placed advertisements in Finland's paper of reference Helsingin Sanomat and Swedish-speaking daily Hufvudstadsbladet featuring a picture of Putin with yellow tape across his mouth reading: "Putin, what are you afraid of?"
"Vladimir Putin's third mandate has been marked by a brutal crackdown on freedom of expression and other civic rights," Amnesty said in a statement.
The organisation has started a petition on its website demanding an end to Russia's rights clampdown.
In Turku, Amnesty said it had placed activists holding banners at four locations on the Russian president's planned route.
The banners read: "Putin, what are you afraid of?" and "Putin, human rights", in Finnish and Russian.
"We hope he'll get our message several times during his visit," Amnesty spokesman Ilpo Kiiskinen said.
Over the past months Russian authorities have raided hundreds of non-profit groups as part of a crackdown prompted by a controversial new law requiring NGOs that receive international donations to register as "foreign agents."
Critics also accuse former KGB agent Putin of presiding over an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition after returning for a third term last year despite huge protests against his rule.
© 2013 AFP