A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed that the head of state called singer Elton John on Thursday about a possible future meeting to discuss any topics that weigh on the entertainer’s mind.
Last week, two Russians pranked Elton John into thinking he was speaking with Putin. John even posted an Instagram post to thank Putin for reaching out to him. Elton John “laughed off” the incident, but Putin allegedly apologized for the prank.
“Putin phoned him,” said Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman. “He said: ‘I know some guys played a trick on you on the phone, but don’t get offended. They are harmless people, though that of course does not justify what they did.'”
Elton John told the BBC he wants to meet with Putin over tea to discuss gay rights. He admitted he probably could not win over Putin, but said it would not hurt to try.
“But I’ll have a go,” he said, adding:
I’d love to meet him. I’d love to sit down with him and talk to him. It’s probably pie in the sky. At least if I meet him and say, listen, come on, let’s have a cup of tea, let’s talk about this. He may laugh behind my back when he shuts the door, and call me an absolute idiot, but at least I can have a conscience and say I’ve tried. I’d say, come on. Gay people are not the problem here. We are not the problem of the world. The world faces much bigger problems than gay people. Be accepting and let’s all pull together and try and solve the problems of the world. But don’t isolate and be prejudiced against gay people.
Russia passed its “gay propaganda” law in June 2013. The law bans people from handing out “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors. It also made it “illegal to equate straight and gay relationships, as well as the distribution of material on gay rights.” The government can fine people 4,000-5,000 rubles ($67-$83) if they violate the law. Businesses even face closure if they are found guilty, “while foreigners can be arrested and detained for 15 days, while facing fines up to about $83.”
Anti-gay Russia politician Vitaly Milonov, one of the law’s architects, recently asked the Kremlin to outlaw HBO’s popular Game of Thrones due to themes of incest, homosexuality, and rape.
“Every tenth character in [Game of Thrones] is a sexual deviant,” he said. “It is precisely through this kind of content and its popularization that a new model is introduced in our conscience, leading people to believe that certain things and events are normal.”