Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn’t like gay men. That’s obvious. But apparently he likes bisexual women, or at least those who are Olympic medalists. In a strange twist on his own antigay policies, Putin showed up at an after-hours party for Dutch gold medalist Ireen Wüst to give her what she called “a cuddle.”
By hugging a lesbian, albeit a bisexual Olympian, wasn’t he giving lesbianism a show of support in violation of the Russian law banning homosexual propaganda? But then again, Putin would serve as judge and jury, so we suppose he’d let himself off easy.
For her part, Wüst was at the Holland Heineken House celebrating her first place finish in speedskating when Putin dropped by a few beers. Meeting Wust, he embraced her.
“I got a cuddle from him,” Wüst told Dutch national broadcaster NOS. “He congratulated me and asked if everything was OK in Russia and I congratulated him on [Russian speedskater] Olga Graf, of course, for her third place…He was happy to see me, but then he had to leave again. But I cuddled him.”
Putin would hardly be the first straight man who despises gay men but finds bisexual women attractive. As for Wüst, she seemed more star-struck than stricken at the idea that she embraced the man who has made the lives of LGBT people in Russian miserable. If anything, she was the perfect choice of Putin’s embrace.
Wüst has cast herself as an athlete who is studiously above politics. When a gay former politician in Holland noted that she could be jailed for being a lesbian in Russia and was thus obliged to speak out, Wüst said it wasn’t her place. While she said she knows the situation is hard for the Russian LGBT community, she says that Russian law is a “political thing that should be discussed by politicians. … I’m just there to skate very fast. I can’t do anything about it, and I won’t. As if a well-known Dutch person can change the situation in Russia! I’m not going to make a statement, it’s not my place to do so.”
Sounds like Putin’s kind of athlete.
Photo credit: Ireen Wüst’s Twitter account