Putin: I'm not homophobic - I like Elton John

Hardline Russian President Vladimir Putin has confessed he's a big fan of Elton John.

Putin has been at the centre of controversy after passing a law to ban homosexual 'propaganda' at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, but claims there is no prejudice against gay people in Russia and he is a fan of the 'Candle in the Wind' singer.

Speaking on the 'Andrew Marr Show', Vladimir said: "Elton John, he's an extraordinary person, a distinguished musician.

"And millions of our people sincerely love him, regardless of his sexual orientation."

His comments are reminiscent of protestations by Gareth Keenan, a character in UK sitcom 'The Office', who claimed his CD collection proved that he was not homophobic.

The 61-year-old politician went on to argue that there couldn't be any discrimination against homosexuals in his country, because of the popularity of the 66-year-old singer and that he has gay friends.

He said: "I myself know some people who are gay. We're on friendly terms.

"I'm not prejudiced in any way. Homosexual people can't feel inferior here [in Russia] because there is no professional, career or social discrimination against them."

The ban on homosexual 'propaganda' will prevent anyone from giving any information about homosexuality to people under the age of 18, and has led to calls for a boycott of the Games which are set to begin next month.

Elton John - who has two adopted children, 12 month old Elijah and Zachary, three, with husband David Furnish - condemned the law that criminalises 'gay propaganda' during his recent concert in Moscow.

KEYWORDS: Putin, Russia, Elton John
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