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Swiss president says insults on Russian TV ‘out of order’

viola amherd
Swiss Defence Minister Viola Amherd also holds the country's rotating presidency for 2024. Keystone / Peter Schneider

Viola Amherd says that recent defamatory statements on Russian television were so out of line that they were “clearly a case of disinformation”.

“I have taken note of the issue and left it at that,” Amherd told Swiss public television, SRF, on Monday. The 62-year-old added that it looked as if Russian President Vladimir Putin was at least taking the upcoming Ukraine conference in Switzerland seriously.

+ More: the latest on the Bürgenstock peace conference

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) initially suggested summoning the Russian ambassador in Bern due to the attacks on Amherd. This is diplomatic routine, Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis told French-speaking Swiss public radio, RTS.

However, Amherd argued that the attacks were so absurd and ridiculous that they had lost any seriousness.

The Swiss president was recently vilified on Russian television in a panel discussion program. She was said to be addicted to luxury and not particularly attractive. She was also called a “baby killer” and a “Satanist”.

The Swiss government has not yet commented on the issue, nor on whether a diplomatic response was issued.

+ Ukraine conference: diplomacy against a historic backdrop

Russian media have also been invited to the two-day Ukraine conference, which starts on Saturday at the Bürgenstock resort in central Switzerland. “We have freedom of expression and freedom of the press in our country,” Amherd told SRF. “It is important that Russian media can get a picture of the situation on the ground.”

The Bürgenstock meeting, planned by Switzerland at the request of Kyiv, is intended to provide an impetus for a peace process in the Russian war in Ukraine. Russia has not been invited and would not have taken part.

Concretely, the summit with over 40 registered heads of state and government is intended to mobilise more international support for Ukraine and create the conditions for a subsequent peace summit – with the participation of Russia.

Adapted from German by DeepL/dos

This news story has been written and carefully fact-checked by an external editorial team. At SWI swissinfo.ch we select the most relevant news for an international audience and use automatic translation tools such as DeepL to translate it into English. Providing you with automatically translated news gives us the time to write more in-depth articles.

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