Russian social media users are campaigning against the US singer Demi Lovato after her concert at New York's gay pride event on Sunday featured a controversial use of an image of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
During a performance of Lovato's latest track Really Don't Care, two of her male backing dancers shared a kiss. One of them was naked except for a portrait of Vladimir Putin attached to his underwear. Shortly afterwards, hashtags about the event began trending in Russia.
Thousands tweeted #DemiHurtsRussianLovatics ("Lovatics" is how the singer's fans refer to themselves) to show their anger over the incident. #StayStrongPutin has also been used as a way of demonstrating support for the president. "I used to be neutral towards her, but now I'm totally disappointed," wrote one Russian on Twitter. "Now I feel like our country is one big family! Putin unites people!" said another.
The event was also a big topic of conversation on the Russian social network Vkontakte. "She had no right to act this way. This has nothing to do with politics," wrote a VK user called Just Ann. "She should continue singing and leave politicians to deal with their countries laws on their own. What has she achieved?... If she's trying to protect gay rights, she'd better find another way. Offending the president of a foreign country is unacceptable."
And there was speculation about whether Lovato would be allowed to perform in Russia in the future. "Because of this the fans have turned their backs on her and she will very likely be banned from entering our country," wrote Anila Novikova. "And then they might ban all foreign artists. Bravo Demi."
Parody images were also shared online with some swapping the head of Vladimir Putin for an image of US President Barack Obama. Since the concert, there have been more than 28,000 #DemiHurtsRussianLovatics tweets and 19,000 saying #StayStrongPutin. It's not surprising that Lovato would make a statement about LGBT rights during this song. The music video for Really Don't Care features vibrant and colourful scenes from a gay pride event in California and opens with Lovato saying, "You don't have to hate because my Jesus loves all."
The vast majority of Russian social media reaction was strongly against the Putin "gay kiss". But many of Lovato's fans expressed support for the singer. "I'm sorry but she's just standing up for gay rights. Putin's horrible towards the gay community and it's SO wrong." wrote one fan.
The singer herself took to her Twitter page on Monday to respond robustly to the deluge of negative tweets. Lovato denied accusations she'd used offensive language to describe Vladimir Putin, but added "I did have Putin struttin in a rainbow thong. Get your facts straight bitchesss."
Reporting by Anne-Marie Tomchak
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