Can Angela Merkel speak German
In which language do Putin and Merkel actually talk to each other?
The Russian President and the German Chancellor spent a lot of time in each other's country. Is that why you can do without an interpreter?
Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel know each other well: The two have held several dozen meetings in the past eleven years, and Merkel has made a total of seventeen trips to Russia. Even if the atmosphere of conversation has become chilly since the annexation of Crimea, the two are culturally and linguistically close: Both spent a lot of time in each other's countries long before they rose to power. Putin speaks good German, Merkel reasonably Russian.
Putin, "the German"
The German past of the Russian President is much better known than the Russian Merkel's. Between 1985 and 1990, Putin served as a secret service agent in Dresden, which at that time still belonged to the GDR. Putin's family followed him shortly after he was transferred to East Germany, where his younger daughter was born. It was there that Putin's wife, Lyudmila, learned German and after returning to Russia she worked as a German teacher. The two daughters attended the German school in Moscow.
Putin has given interviews in German on various occasions and also accepts questions in this language on official occasions, but usually answers them in Russian. In Berlin, at the beginning of his presidency in 2001, he caused a sensation when he gave a twenty-minute speech in German in the Bundestag. It was read, but apart from a slight Russian accent, his German sounds very good. This connection with Germany as well as the fact that many Russians perceive atypical nationally that he does not drink have earned him the nickname “the German in the Kremlin” among some.
Alone in the Soviet Union
Angela Merkel, née Kasner, learned Russian during her school days in the GDR. She met her first husband, Ulrich Merkel, during a student exchange in Moscow in the mid-1970s. This marriage lasted only four years, until 1981, but interest in the big eastern neighbor continued. In the eighties she toured numerous countries of the former Eastern Bloc on her own and strolled through Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Russia in the former Soviet Union. Obviously, her Russian was good enough to get by.
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