A Russian conductor, who strongly supports President Vladimir Putin, says “taboos” like homosexuality, should be respected by the West.

Valery Gergiev is the soon to be music director of the Munich Philharmonic.

In a letter on Tuesday he said: “I am a musician and conductor. However, I am also a Russian citizen with close connections to my native country.”

Protests have taken place at his performances over Russia’s stance against LGBT rights and the Ukraine crisis.

Mr Gergiev, who denies supporting Russia’s federal anti-gay law against “promoting homosexuality to minors” said: “I cannot ignore the fact that parts of Russian society live according to fundamental principles that are different from those of Western societies.”

He continues to explain that he thinks recent “new rifts between East and West” are “distressing to all of us,” but did not express his political views.

Mr Gergiev said in his statement that his music could be a “bridge builder” before discussing the importance of the Russian Orthodox Church.

“I respect my people and their traditions,” he wrote. “I also respect the principles of life that are extremely important to the people of Russia. These include upholding taboos that have not applied in Western countries for many years.”

Last year the Russian conductor’s performances in London were hit by protests by LGBT campaigners.