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Gay rights groups await Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Amsterdam

ASSOCIATED PRESS

AMSTERDAM -- Rainbow flags are flying at half-mast around Amsterdam ahead of a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Netherlands Monday, as gay rights groups gear up to protest Russia's pending anti-gay legislation.

In January, Russian lawmakers gave tentative approval to a bill that makes public events and dissemination of information about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to minors punishable by fines of up to $16,000. It still requires final approval by parliament and would have to be signed by Putin to become law.

Putin's visit is aimed at showcasing growing economic ties between the two countries. With $83 billion in bilateral trade last year, the Netherlands outpaced Germany to become Russia's No. 1 trading partner in Europe and its second biggest partner in the world after China.

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