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A Putinversteher logo similar to what may be seen on T-shirts, mugs, etc.

Putinversteher or Putin-Versteher is a German political neologism and a buzzword (Putin + verstehen), which literally translates "Putin understander", i.e., "one who understands Putin". [1] It is a pejorative reference to politicians and pundits who express empathy to Vladimir Putin, i.e., who say "yes, but you have to understand Putin's position". A similar term is Russlandversteher, "Russia understander". [2][3] It may also be translated as "Putin-Empathizer.[4]

A major cornerstone of "Putin-friendly" attitude is the "legitimate interests of Russia" in the post-Soviet states.[3] Another typical trait of Putinverstehers is anti-Americanism.[4]

The Putinversteher circle is politically heterogeneous and includes both some leftist and rightist political groups. It also includes businesspeople with business interests in Russia.[3][2]

Paul Roderick Gregory wrote that they "serve as Putin’s first line of defense against meaningful European sanctions for the Anschluss of Crimea". [4]

An example of Putinversteher is former Chancellor of Germany Helmut Schmidt, who said that Putin's annexation of Crimea, while illegitimate, was "understandable".[2][5]

Another major Putinversteher is another former Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, who is chairman of the shareholders' committee of Nord Stream. He calls to respect Russian "sensitivities" and seconds the Russian argument which compares separatism of Crimea with that of Kosovo. [4]

The term was embraced in Russia, where a company named "Putinversteher" sells memorabilia (rings, clothes etc.) with Putin imagery.[6]