Vladimir Putin ‘runner up’ for TIME’s Person of the Year

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has been named the runner up for TIME’s Person of the Year award.

The annual award – often controversial for its opaque-seeming selection of notorious individuals – had shortlisted both Apple CEO Tim Cook, who came out last month, and President Putin.

Both ultimately lost out to ‘the Ebola Fighters’ – doctors helping to stem the tide of the disease in West Africa.

President Putin – who recently claimed his country’s poor record on gay rights was invented by the West – was named as runner-up.

Putin previously won the award in 2007, while other previous winners include Pope Francis, Mark Zuckerburg and – bizarrely – ‘You’.

He said just last week: “[Homophobia] is a label attached to the Russian Federation by other countries, especially by those which have criminal responsibility for people of non-traditional sexual orientation.

“[It’s not our] intention to persecute people of whatever non-traditional orientation.

“We are not punishing anyone, but traditional family, healthy nation — those are our choices.

“One does not exclude the other, and one does not affect the other. I believe, a balanced approach like this is absolutely correct.”

The TIME profile does not mention his support for the country’s homophobic laws.