June 28, 2019 / 10:04 PM / 19 days ago

Elton John blasts Putin for calling liberal values 'obsolete'

(Reuters) - British singer Elton John said on Friday he was deeply upset by Russian President Vladimir Putin's comment that liberal values were "obsolete" and had been rejected by the majority of people in Western nations.

FILE PHOTO: Elton John listens in the courtyard of the presidential Elysee Palace in Paris, France June 21, 2019. Lewis Joly/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

In an interview with the Financial Times newspaper, Putin said German Chancellor Angela Merkel had erred by adopting a liberal policy toward immigration from the Middle East.

"The liberal idea presupposes that nothing needs to be done. The migrants can kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants must be protected. What rights are these? Every crime must have its punishment," Putin said in the interview.

"So, the liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population," Putin said.

John, in a statement released on Friday and addressed to Putin, said he was upset by the comments in the interview.

"I strongly disagree with your view that pursuing policies that embrace multicultural and sexual diversity are obsolete in our societies," the singer said.

John, who is gay, also accused Putin of hypocrisy for saying in the same interview that he wanted LGBT people to be happy. Russia has reportedly censored gay scenes in the movie "Rocketman" based on John's life.

"This feels like hypocrisy to me," John said.

Putin said Russia is not photophobic, but that a Western willingness to embrace homosexuality and gender fluidity seemed excessive to him.

John, 72, a prominent gay rights campaigner, has previously spoken out against a 2013 law banning the promotion of homosexuality to minors.

In 2015, Putin said he would be willing to meet with John. Although the singer played a concert in Moscow in May 2016, no meeting with Putin took place.

Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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