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Russian president Vladimir Putin continued on the offensive, so to speak, with antigay remarks at the Valdai International Discussion Club's forum in Russia Thursday, making a connection (sort of) between gay relationships and Satanism, and saying Silvio Berlusconi is being persecuted for being heterosexual.
Putin, who recently signed Russia's ban on "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" into law, said "traditionalism" is the most important aspect of Russian national identity, and he criticized Western European countries for rejecting tradition, the Russian TV network RT reports. In those countries, he said, "any traditional identity ... including sexual identity, is rejected. ... There is a policy equating families with many children with same-sex families, belief in God with belief in Satan."
He defended the law on demographic grounds as well, saying, "Europeans are dying out. Don't you understand that? And same-sex marriages don't produce children."
Putin also defended his friend Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister who is appealing his conviction on a charge of having sex with an underage woman. "Berlusconi faces trial for bedding women," Putin said. "If he was gay, no one would ever lay a finger on him."