Russian president Vladimir Putin on Monday denied that human rights are under pressure and that homosexuals are discriminated against during a whirlwind visit to Amsterdam.
Speaking to journalists after a working dinner with Russian and Dutch business leaders, Putin said all people in Russia have the same rights. ‘There are no limits to the rights of minorities,’ Putin said. ‘They can have a career, get national honours…,’ website nu.nl quoted him as saying.
The dinner, at the Maritime museum, marked the end of the Russian leader’s lightning visit to the Netherlands to kick of celebrations to mark 400 years of friendship between the two countries.
The Dutch prime minister told reporters after the meeting he had a good conversation with the Russian leader. ‘I told him of our concerns about gay rights. I said that we consider gay rights to be part of human rights. We had a good dialogue about this,’ Rutte said.
The Netherlands’ good relationship with Russia made it possible to discuss this sort of ‘difficult issue,’ Rutte said. ‘It goes without saying that we acknowledge that we think differently about things.’
Putin went on to say he did not understand why the Netherlands has a legal organisation for paedophiles and why there is political party which bans women from getting involved in politics – in a reference to the fundamentalist Christian SGP.
Thousands of people took part in a demonstration against the Russian leader during the dinner. Russia is poised to bring in new legislation which will make it a criminal offence to hold public events or spread information about homosexuality to minors.
The bulk of the talks between the two leaders revolved around trade issues and a number of statements of intent were signed, Nos television reported.