Pop singer had urged Russian president to talk to him about LGBT rights in his country
A spokesperson for Vladimir Putin has denied that the Russian president spoke to Elton John on the telephone earlier this week.
As reported, John said he was looking forward to meeting Vladimir Putin after speaking to the Russian President on Monday (September 13).
He had previously made a public offer to meet Putin to discuss gay rights in Russia. John subseuently offered fans an update on his attempts to communicate with Putin and told Instagram followers that he had enjoyed a phone call with the controversial leader.
“Thank-you to President Vladimir Putin for reaching out and speaking via telephone with me today,” John wrote on Instagram. “I look to forward to meeting with you face-to-face to discuss LGBT equality in Russia.”
However, Kremlin spokeperson Dmitry Peskov denied that any such phone call had taken place and questioned the authenticity of John’s claims.
“I don’t doubt that if there is such a request, the president will be ready to meet with Elton John among others to give answers to all the questions that he might ask,” The Guardian reportd he told journalists. “But we haven’t received such signals yet.”
Reports of homophobic attacks have increased in Russia in recent years while Putin passed a law in June 2013 that made it legal to prosecute individuals promoting “homosexual behaviour among minors”.
Speaking to BBC News, John said Putin’s attitude to gay people was “isolating and prejudiced” and “ridiculous” and cited comments made by the President in 2014 about gay people targeting children.
“Give me a break,” John said. “You are President of Russia, and you go and say stupid things like that?”
“I would like to meet [Mr Putin],” he added. “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.”
Elton John is a staunch advocate for gay rights and just last month criticised a Venice mayor who has removed books from schools that feature same-sex families.
The city’s mayor Luigi Brugnaro was elected in June and went on to ban 49 children’s books that made reference to gay marriage from schools.
However, John’s outspoken nature does occasionally land him in trouble. In June he was forced to apologise after comparing stewards to Hitler during a gig in Gloucester.