The trial against the feminist rockers from the punk band Pussy Riot could hardly be more absurd.
State prosecutors are basing their case on an expert opinion which holds that the women violated a resolution made during a synod of the Eastern Catholic Churches in A. 691 that forbids "unnatural screaming" in a church.
Yet it is notorious for avoiding sensitive issues, such as human rights.
This annual event was launched 11 years ago by Putin, during his first stint as president, and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder as something "between a state-initiated talk and a high-end buffet," as the left-leaning Berlin daily Die Tageszeitung aptly described it in 2001.
Studnitz was replaced by Andreas Schockenhoff, a Merkel confidant and deputy floor leader of her conservatives in German parliament.
Artists and politicians across Europe have professed their solidarity with Pussy Riot.
On Tuesday, 121 German parliamentarians from all Bundestag parties issued a statement calling for clemency for the band members.
Merkel wanted to know what Putin thought about the demonstrations that had taken place in Moscow against his re-election.
Putin assured her that it was all part of the past and that it had only involved very small rallies of communists, fascists and sexual deviants.