- The Washington Times - Friday, July 1, 2016

The lead singer of Rammstein, a platinum-selling German metal band, has denounced recent news reports that touted his affection for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Contrary to articles circulated by Kremlin-owned media, Rammstein vocalist Till Lindermann told German tabloid Bild this week that he never praised Mr. Putin during a recent performance in Moscow.

“It’s total crap!” the singer said in a Bild article titled “I was the victim of Putin’s propaganda.”

According to the vocalist, news reports concerning his alleged appreciation for the Russian president emerged after Rammstein performed in Moscow on June 19 and he was handed an iPhone bearing Mr. Putin’s portrait.

“The friends of Russian promotor Ed Radnikov came up to me before the start of the concert and thrust a phone into my hand with the words ‘with greetings from Vladimir Putin!’ Then they asked me how I like Moscow. I gave a thumbs up and said, ‘Moscow is an excellent city.’ That’s it,” he told Bild.

Within days, however, Russian news sites — including those owned by the Russian government — began describing the encounter with the concert promoter quite differently. Earlier this week, Kremlin-run news wire Sputnik was among the outlets that published a doctored image of Mr. Lindermann holding the iPhone while wearing a shirt depicting the Russian president, along with quotes he now claims were never said.

“[German Chancellor] Angela Merkel cannot boast of having such popularity as Putin,” he supposedly said. “I like him. He is a hard leader, not a puppet, unlike many.

“All these political attacks on your country are unfair, I think. Russia defends its interests, and sanctions should be subjected to those who lead a dishonest game and provoke international conflicts,” he was attributed with saying. “In general, I am sure that music will save the world.”

None of those remarks were actually made, Bild reported Wednesday, and Mr. Lindermann — who says his band “in principle doesn’t make any political statements” — has hired an attorney, The Moscow Times reported.

The company that made the Putin iPhone, Caviar, has since issued a statement saying the doctored image and quotes were “published in error.”

“The statements of Herr Lindemann were recorded inaccurately. Caviar apologizes for incorrectly interpreted and published information,” the company said.

As of Friday, Sputnik articles detailing the singer’s supposed support for Mr. Putin were still available on the website’s German, French and Czech portals. The government-owned news site has since published a new report dismissing the original, and claims Caviar said Sputnik was the only media group to approach the phone maker for comment.

Berlin’s Rammstein has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide since forming in 1994, and achieved moderate success in the U.S. for their 1997 single “Du hast.”

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