Putin impersonator beats real president to Geneva
By Emma Farge and Yiming Woo
GENEVA (Reuters) - One day before the arrival of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva for a historic summit meeting with US President Joe Biden, a doppelganger was spotted in the Swiss city protesting against the release of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
Shirtless and army pants to mimic summer vacation shots of the real Russian president, protester Alexander Lyubushin put on a Putin face mask and sat on a bench in a sunny Geneva square, pretending to be necking vodka.
When asked whether he expected a good result from the summit meeting on Wednesday afternoon in a nearby villa on the lake, the impersonator replied: "Of course. If not, I'll cut off all gas and oil."
On the bench next to him lay a fake pistol and a counterfeit bottle of the neurotoxin Novichok, which German doctors used to poison Navalny with in Siberia last year.
The Kremlin denies allegations that it ordered the poisoning.
Nearby, several dozen protesters called for Navalny's release from a Russian prison, where he was serving a two-and-a-half year sentence.
They chanted "Russia without Putin" next to a poster on which Navalny signed a heart - a copy of a mural that appeared a few days ago on a street in central Geneva.
A senior US official said Biden's administration would raise human rights at the summit, which also includes nuclear weapons and ransomware, but did not say whether that would include the Navalny case.
Geneva hosts the United Nations Human Rights Council and is a center for activism. Nawalny's daughter received an award for "moral courage" on behalf of her father at a virtual meeting of the Geneva Summit on Human Rights and Democracy last week.
Protester Maria Knyazeva said she hoped Biden would raise Nawalny's case directly with Putin.
“I understand strategic issues must come first, but if Biden and other Western leaders don't stand up for human rights, who will? She said.
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland; writing by Emma Farge; editing by Sonya Hepinstall)
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