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German Award Under Fire Over Choice Of Putin

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
Senior members of Germany's coalition have criticized an independent group committee for choosing Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for an award standing for freedom and democratic change.

Government human rights commissioner Markus Loening said the choice undermined the credibility of the "Quadriga" award.

The Werkstatt Deutschland group awards the prize on Germany's national day, October 3, to people who are "role models for and from Germany."

Loening said the choice "devalues the prize" and called the decision "downright cynical."

Former Soviet leader Gorbachev and former Czech President Havel are among previous winners of the prize.

Watchdog Human Rights Watch said it was surprised Putin would receive an award that "invokes the spirit of 1989" when the communist eastern bloc collapsed.

compiled from agency reports