On the 18th of May, as Chancellor Angela Merkel landed in Russia for a conference, she was welcomed with a beautiful bouquet of flowers by President Vladimir Putin. The entire scenario was seen as a show of respect for the Chancellor throughout Russia. The Bild newspaper, a German tabloid published by Axel Springer AG, however, had a vastly different outlook on the scenario.
Soon after the news of Chancellor Merkel receiving a bouquet upon her entry to Sochi was released, the Bild newspaper spoke up against this show of respect being offensive to the Chancellor, declaring that the bouquet was an “insult to the dignity” of Merkel. According to Bild, President Putin had gifted the light-hued flowers to Angela as a show of emphasis on her feminine nature and was actually degrading her position as Chancellor of Germany.
In a reply to this article, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov gave an official statement on 21st May, declining all negative allegations towards the scenario. Peskov announced that the gift of flowers had merely been a show of respect following an age-old Russian tradition. The bouquet was never intended to have any ulterior motives giving off any passive-aggressive message towards the gender of the Chancellor. Dmitry Peskov also confirmed that it was normal behavior in Russia to give flowers to women or any work colleagues as a sign of good manners, and President Putin gifting a bouquet of pastel roses and freesias was, for all intents and purposes, a sign of good relations between the two countries.