Vladimir Putin has responded to Elton John's accusations of "hypocrisy," claiming the singer must be "mistaken" to think that the notoriously anti-LGBTQ+ Russian president holds anti-LGBTQ+ views.
"I have a lot of respect for him, he is a genius musician, we all enjoy his music, but I think he is mistaken," said Putin, according to Deadline. He also added that Russia has a "relaxed and unprejudiced" attitude toward its LGBTQ+ community, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary.
Putin's response is the latest in a spat between the two that began last Thursday, when Putin, in an interview with the Financial Times, said that the acceptance of LGBTQ+ people had become "excessive."
"We have no problem with LGBT persons," he said, "but some things do appear excessive to us. They claim now that children can play five or six gender roles."
"Let everyone be happy, we have no problem with LGBT persons," the Russian president continued. "But this must not be allowed to overshadow the culture, traditions and traditional family values of millions of people making up the core population."
John -- already incensed that his Dexter Fletcher-directed biopic, Rocketman, had been censored in Russia, removing sex scenes and any mention of the singer's husband, David Furnish -- criticized the "hypocrisy" of Putin's claims the following day on social media.
"I find duplicity in your comment that you want LGBT people to 'be happy' and that 'we have no problem in that,'" said John, per CNN. "Yet Russian distributors chose to heavily censor my film Rocketman by removing all references to my finding true happiness through my 25-year relationship with David and the raising of my two beautiful sons."