Kremlin regrets "anti-Russian rhetoric" in Germany
MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin regretted on Thursday an increase in anti-Russian rhetoric in Germany before a visit by Chancellor Angela Merkel to Moscow but said strong economic ties should keep relations with Berlin on track.
German lawmakers expressed alarm last week at the state of human rights in Russia since Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency in May and urged Merkel to press him on its treatment of critics during her visit on Friday.
"We are well aware of the heightened anti-Russian rhetoric in Germany in recent weeks or even months. We are aware of the demands Mrs Merkel faces from Bundestag deputies and others to raise various human rights and democracy issues with Putin," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
"As always, President Putin will explain in detail whatever remains unclear and will ask his own questions."
Merkel will attend a conference before holding talks with Putin, who has this year faced the biggest protests since he first rose to power in 2000 and has been accused by his opponents of cracking down on dissent.
Peskov put the increase in anti-Russian sentiment down to what he said was point-scoring at the start of campaigning for Germany's federal election next year and said mutual trade provided a strong "air bag", or safety cushion.
"Eighty-seven billion dollars in (annual) bilateral trade provide this air bag. With such a solid foundation, we can be calm," he said.