Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has once again denied claims that gay citizens are being persecuted in the country following the passing of laws against ‘homosexual propaganda’.

Speaking to reporters in Finland Mr Putin said “homosexuals are equal citizens enjoying full rights” in Russia.

“It’s not about imposing some sort of sanctions on homosexuality…It’s about protecting children from such information,” Mr Putin said.

“Certain countries…think that there is no need to protect [children] from this…But we are going to provide such protection the way that State Duma lawmakers have decided. We ask you not to interfere in our governance,” he added.

A ban on “homosexual propaganda” was passed by the Russian Parliament earlier this month.

Publishing information about same-sex relationship can now warrant fines of 4,000-5,000 rubles (£85-105) for individuals, 40,000-50,000 rubles (£850-1050) for officials, and 400-500,000 (£8,500-10,500) rubles for businesses.

At the start of June Mr Putin denied a ban on foreign same-sex couples from adopting Russian children amounted to discrimination.

“I think our legislation is very liberal in this way, and there is no discrimination, none at all,” he said.

Labour MEP Michael Cashman then accused Mr Putin of indulging in “hate speech”.

Several violent homophobic killings have taken place in Russia since the start of 2013 – the most recent involving a 39-year-old man in a village on the Kamchatka in May.