‘I’m sorry’: German magazine editor-in-chief regrets 'dog' remark about Putin
Schneider called the embassy to express regret over the remarks in the magazine’s article ‘50 reasons for Merkel/50 reasons against Merkel’ published on September 9. The article triggered an angry reaction from Moscow, with the Russian embassy calling on Schneider to apologize for “this apparent fail” by his editorial office.
“Even though she [the German Chancellor Angela Merkel] is afraid of [the Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s dog, she is not afraid of the dog Putin,” reads the offensive section.
“Robert Schneider, editor-in-chief of the Focus magazine, called the embassy today. He personally expressed apology for the well-known statements in the magazine addressing the president of the Russian Federation,” the head of press service of the Russian embassy Denis Mikerin in Berlin wrote on Facebook on Thursday.
The magazine “intended in no way to offend or insult” the Russian leader, Mikerin added citing Schneider.
“However, having agreed with our arguments, he acknowledged the exceptional incorrectness of the chosen wording and apologized, including to all readers who were rightly angered by the offensive remarks,” the press secretary stated.
Earlier the magazine itself issued a statement referring to the controversial article and saying about the phone conversation between Mikerin and Schneider.
“It was a good conversation, in which I assured that it was not our intention to disrespect the Russian president. If people are still feeling hurt, I'm sorry,” the statement published on Facebook read. The post added that Schneider invited Russian ambassador in Germany to meet the Focus editorial team.
Focus has apparently changed its heart over the incident as Russian embassy has been waiting for an apology since September 12, when the issue was raised by the head of the press service. At the time, the German weekly tweeted that the article was meant to be ironic and the insulting reference is “wordplay.”
“The word “dog” is basically a wordplay, which was intended to be ironic. It means “tough nut.” It was not intended to be derogatory,” the tweet read.
Die Bezeichnung "Hund" stellt ein ironisch gemeintes Wortspiel dar, meint harter Hund. Es war nicht herabwürdigend gemeint. @RusBotschaft— FOCUS Magazin (@FOCUS_Magazin) September 13, 2017
In an earlier contact with the Russian embassy Schneider also did not offer any apology.
“Time will tell whether to consider the enlightenment as a second flash or is it the same as a beam of light in a dark Kingdom. In any case, it is the basis for continuing the dialogue,” the press secretary said after the second conversation with Schneider.
The insulting line was apparently a reference to the meeting between Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Sochi almost ten years ago. Putin’s Labrador retriever Konni frightened the chancellor, as Merkel is afraid of dogs. Putin later explained that he had not been aware of her phobia, and he apologized for the incident.