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01/19/2014 08:29 am ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Putin Claims He's 'Friendly' With Gay People

Russian President Vladimir Putin has spearheaded some of the strictest policies against the LGBT community in Russia's history.

Under the new Russian law, teaching children about homosexuality is a crime punishable with a hefty fine. Though homosexuality was legalized in Russia in 1993, gay people still face considerable social pressure. A news anchor who came out as gay on television was immediately fired.

Despite all this, Putin insists he bears no ill will towards gay people.

"I don't care about a person's orientation," he told the BBC. "I myself know some people who are gay. We're on friendly terms. I'm not prejudiced in any way."

Watch the full BBC interview here.

Russia's anti-gay climate has come under fire from the international community. As the Winter Olympics in Sochi grow nearer, the scrutiny grows. Multiple world leaders, including German President Joachim Gauk have vowed not to attend the games as a statement against the new law. Athletes have also expressed concern about Russia's treatment of gays.

Putin said last week that gay athletes would face no discrimination at the games. Still, he asked that they "just leave kids alone."

The U.S. is sending three openly gay athletes to the Sochi Olympics in place of the president and the first lady.

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