Vladimir Putin: 'Sochi not the place to debate gay rights'

Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting with upcoming Olympic games' volunteers in Sochi on January 17, 2014
© AFP
Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that the Sochi Winter Olympics are not the place to debate the country's treatment of gays.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the Sochi Winter Olympics are not the place to debate the country's treatment of gays.

The Russian premier used a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country has criticised Russia on gay rights in the past, to underline the message that politics and sport should not be mixed.

"I know you always give much attention to humanitarian issues and adherence to human rights," Putin told the Dutch premier in Sochi, shortly before the Games' opening ceremony. "We are always open to discussion."

The Russian leader then spoke of a television interview in a Sochi gay club, where a man allegedly told reporters: "Leave us alone. Sport is sport. The Olympics are the Olympics. Let's focus. The less aggression there is over [gay rights] from both sides, the better."

Putin is said to have told Rutte: "I second the assessment that this person made in every way."

The Russian Federation has recently encountered controversy with regards to its stance on homosexuality.