Russian President Vladimir Putin leveled criticism against Western countries, claiming they are trying to “cancel” Russia. In his speech on Friday, he referenced the criticism Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling received for her transphobic views and comments.
“Recently, they canceled the children's writer Joanne Rowling because she – the author of books that have sold 100s of millions of copies worldwide – fell out of favor with fans of so-called 'gender freedoms,’” Putin said.
Rowling has made many anti-trans comments previously, claiming to love trans people but also essentially questioning their existence. She has made statements that were supportive of trans-exclusionary radical feminists, a.k.a. TERFs, and defended a woman who lost her job because of anti-trans rhetoric. She has painted trans rights as somehow in conflict with women’s rights, and some conservative politicians have used Rowling’s comments to support their transphobic positions.
Putin, who has called accepting trans people a "crime against humanity," now appears one of those politicians.
Rowling, however, has already distanced herself from the Russian leader’s remarks.
“Critiques of Western cancel culture are possibly not best made by those currently slaughtering civilians for the crime of resistance, or who jail and poison their critics,” she wrote, while posting an article about Putin critic Alexei Navalny, who survived being allegedly poisoned by the Kremlin.
In his address, Putin claimed that “they are now trying to cancel our country. I’m talking about the progressive discrimination of everything to do with Russia.”
Putin pointed to the cancellation of numerous Russian cultural events globally following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
"The last time such a mass campaign to destroy objectionable literature was carried out, it was by the Nazis in Germany almost 90 years ago," he said.
Russia continues to deny it targets civilians in what it calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine. However, media reports and Western countries say it has repeatedly hit civilian targets.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, which tracks civilian casualties, reports at least 1,035 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and another 1,650 wounded since Russia invaded on Feb. 24. Millions have already fled Ukraine.
A NATO official said between 7,000 to 15,000 Russian forces have been killed.