Russian President Vladimir Putin soothed anxieties over terrorist threats ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi next month and addressed international unease with Russia’s anti-gay laws in interviews with Russian and foreign broadcasters Sunday.
Putin defended a Russian law passed last year that bans propaganda of homosexuality, telling ABC’s This Week that it is a necessary protection against pedophilia and has “nothing to do with persecuting individuals for their nontraditional orientation.” He emphasized that all Russians are treated equally, and even mentioned Russians’ love of Elton John.
Putin also addressed issues of security, noting that Russia is accustomed to hosting secure events such as the G-8 and G-20 summits. A total of 40,000 law-enforcement personnel will be present at the Olympics.
Chechen insurgents who want to carve out an Islamic state in southern Russia have threatened to strike the Games, and have coordinated attacks across the region, including December bombings in the Russian industrial center of Volgograd, which killed more than 30 people and injured dozens.
Read the full transcript of Putin’s interview with ABC’s This Week here.