Elton John may have been fooled by a prankster claiming to be Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin has claimed.
Sir Elton claimed yesterday that he received a phone call from the Russian president after saying he would like to meet Putin to discuss his country’s record on gay rights.
He posted to his Instagram account: “Thank-you to President Vladimir Putin for reaching out and speaking via telephone with me today.
“I look to forward to meeting with you face-to-face to discuss LGBT equality in Russia.”
However, The Times reports that Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov has denied any such conversation took place. “Putin did not have a conversation with Elton John and, more importantly, we did not receive any kind of offer about a meeting,” Mr Peskov said.
Peskov’s claim led to speculation Sir Elton could have been the victim of a hoax. He even poked fun at the Instagram post, questioning whether it was really written by the singer: “Unfortunately, we don’t know how authentic this post and this account are, given that it is written in English rather incorrectly. I don’t think Sir Elton John would have written so incorrectly.”
Peskov did say, however, that Putin may yet agree to meet Sir Elton. “If there will be such a wish, I don’t doubt that the president will be ready to meet, including with Elton John.”
Elton John told a BBC interview that Putin’s attitude to gay people was “ridiculous” and “isolating and prejudiced”.
“I would like to meet [Putin],” he said. “It’s probably pie in the sky… He may laugh behind my back when he shuts the door and call me an absolute idiot, but at least I can think I have the conscience to say I tried.”
Vitaly Milonov, a local MP who was honoured by Putin for piloting St Petersburg’s “homosexual propaganda law”, also said he was willing to meet Elton John and “explain why he was mistaken”. He added, however, that Sir Elton “shouldn’t distract our president with his rainbow business”.
Last year, Putin praised Elton John in an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr in which he also claimed gay people were not discriminated against in Russia: “When they achieve great success [they are honoured] — for example Elton John is an extraordinary person, a distinguished musician, and millions of our people sincerely love him, regardless of his sexual orientation.”
Russia’s law against “homosexual propaganda” – begun in St Petersburg but now nationwide – outlaws information aimed at children that “denies traditional family values”.
The country also does not recognise same-sex unions and is highly unlikely ever to introduce gay marriage.