Singer Sir Elton John on Wednesday criticized Russia's ban on "gay propaganda" to minors.
The 66-year-old John released his 500-word statement a month after he performed in Russia.
"What I heard reinforced all the media stories that have been circling since the propaganda bill became federal law: that vicious homophobia has been legitimized by this legislation and given extremists the cover to abuse people's basic human rights."
John met with members of the gay community while in Russia.
"Everyone shared stories of verbal and physical abuse – at work, in bars and restaurants or in the street – since the legislation came into force last June."
Putin has defended the law in recent days as Russia prepares to host the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month. He cited John's popularity as evidence that Russia does not discriminate against gays.
"Millions of our people sincerely love him despite his orientation," Putin said Sunday.