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Putin's visit to Germany overshadowed by Cyprus crisis, Kremlin crackdown on civil society

  • 845e4b57b89f5f0b2e0f6a706700f29d.jpg

    Demonstrators protest with posters of journalists Anastasia Baburova killed in 2009, left, and of Anna Politkovskaya killed in 2006, outside the Congress centrum in Hannover, were German chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to meet and to deliver speeches at the Hannover Industrial Fair Sunday April 7, 2013. Words at right on the posters read : Killed. (AP Photo/dpa,Alexander Koerner) (The Associated Press)

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    Protest banners are placed outside the Congress Center in Hannover, Germany to demonstrate against the Russian government Sunday April 7, 2013. German chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to meet there this evening. (AP Photo/dpa Alexander Koerner) (The Associated Press)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Germany for a visit expected to focus on differences over Cyprus' financial crisis and German concerns about the Kremlin crackdown on civil society groups.

Germany is Russia's No. 3 trade partner, but ties have become increasingly strained recently over the Kremlin's heavy-handed response to the opposition, differences over the Syrian crisis and other irritants.

The Cyprus crisis, which has badly bruised Russian investors, has become the latest irritant, which is certain to figure high on the agenda of Putin's talks Sunday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Hannover, where the two leaders will attend a trade fair.

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