Vladimir Putin has reportedly claimed that “Gay Nazis” are responsible for anti-Russian uprisings in Ukraine.

According to Matthew Schmidt, a Russian specialist at the University of Connecticut who is monitoring Ukrainian elections, Putin is positioning himself as the “defender of traditional values”, going so far as to label his opponents “gay Nazis”.

Schmidt said: “The gay Nazis label was simultaneously an attempt to tie the new pro-Europe camp in Kiev to the hated German Third Reich while also taking advantage of the growing acceptance of gay marriage in the West, particularly in the United States.”

Schmidt is currently in Ukraine to monitor the country’s elections on May 25, which are being overseen by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

He added: “Putin has said homosexuality is not our values, and that sense of tolerance of homosexuality is not part of Euroasia.”

According to Schmidt, Putin could be hoping to form a strong alliance known as Euroasia with the former Soviet Union, noting that the Russian president has “written extensively on the subject of Euroasia”, with Moscow as its moral centre.

A pride parade in Crimea was banned under Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law last month, following Russia claiming the territory from Ukraine.

Earlier today a march in Moscow to celebrate Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst was banned by officials, “to respect morality in the education of the younger generation”.