A newspaper has jokingly suggested that rainbows be banned in Russia after President Vladimir Putin heard complaints about one featured on ice cream packaging. Yekaterina Lakhova, a former MP and the current head of Russia's Union of Women, likened the image to gay propaganda during a Friday video conference with Putin and urged the president to defend Russia's so-called traditional values, per the BBC. She complained that the Chistaya Liniya brand was "quietly promoting these nice rainbow colors" while "advertising an ice cream called Rainbow," and suggested the move might make Russian children more receptive to the LGBTQ community's rainbow flag. Promoting homosexual behavior among minors is banned in Russia, a country rife with homophobia, with offenders facing fines of up to $7,000.
But Chistaya Liniya says Lakhova misinterpreted its packaging. "We believe that the rainbow is sunlight after the rain, not the LGBT flag," says Vice President Armen Beniaminov, adding "our company advocates traditional family relations." During the call, Putin responded: "If there are reasons to believe that this is propaganda for values that are not traditional to us, then ... it must be managed by society, but not aggressively," per the BBC. He also criticized the US Embassy in Moscow for its recent display of the rainbow flag, saying it "revealed something about the people that work there," per Reuters. In a later interview, Lakhova said, "I don't like the rainbow, just as I don't like the swastika," per the BBC. The Moskovsky Komsomolets daily has since joked that rainbows must be banned from Russian skies—"otherwise children will see them!" (Read more Russia stories.)