A TV presenter who said gay people should not be allowed to donate sperm or blood, and that their hearts should not even be used, as they are “unfit for extending anyone’s life”, has been appointed to run Vladimir Putin’s new TV network.
On Monday, President Putin signed a decree dissolving Russia’s biggest news agency RIA Novosti, ordering the creation in its place of a new media conglomerate called Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today).
On its website the Kremlin said the new company will focus on “coverage abroad of Russian state policy and public life”.
Media analysts say the existing Russia Today network is known for being “more of a government mouthpiece” compared to RIA Novosti. Although both organisations are state owned, the BBC’s Moscow Correspondent Daniel Sanford notes that “during Mr Putin’s time as Russia’s leader, RIA Novosti has tried hard to produce balanced coverage for Russian and international audiences”.
Mr Putin named Dmitry Kiselyov as the head of Russia Today.
In footage from April 2012, but released on YouTube this summer, Mr Kiselyov defended the country’s crackdown on LGBT rights in a programme broadcast on Rossiya-1, Russia’s main TV channel. He said: “I think that to fine gays for the propaganda of homosexuality among teenagers is not enough. They should be prohibited from donating blood, sperm. And their hearts—in case of a car accident—should be buried or burned as unfit for extending anyone’s life.”
Elaborating on his comments about organ donation and gay people, Mr Kiselyov said: “If he [a homosexual] is a biker and he gets his head torn off [in a road accident], he would not be considered as an organ donor. He will be either committed to the earth or cremated.”
He concluded: “I’m strongly against dragging children into homosexual activities. Because according to [Sigmund] Freud any child is bisexual,” adding: “I believe homosexual propaganda in Russia should be banned on that basis.”
In a fresh attempt to dismiss concerns about LGBT athletes attending February’s Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi, President Putin last month declared he was against “hatred” towards people of a “non-traditional sexual orientation” – whilst continuing to support the country’s homophobic legislation.