A Russian TV host who said the hearts of gay people should be burned after they die, has been given a top honour by President Putin for contributions to the country’s “social development”, and “humanitarian achievements”.

In footage from April 2012, but released on YouTube in August, Dmitry 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.”

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Following international attention and criticism, Mr Kiselyov denied accusations of homophobia in a TV interview, saying “he has enough gay friends”.

A presidential decree published on the Russian Government’s website said the honour was given to Kiselyov because of his contribution to the country’s “social and economic development”.

It goes on to say that he was given the award for “achievements in the humanitarian sphere, the strengthening of the rule of law, [and] protecting the rights and interests of citizens.”

He was in December appointed to run Vladimir Putin’s new state TV network, and the decree signed on 13 February confirms that he was the sole recipient of the Order of Service to the Fatherland.

Other recipients of similar honours include a fire fighter and emergency service technician who were both posthumously given the Order of Valour.

The aim of the new network is to promote the image of Russia to foreign countries.