Vladimir Putin Offers Elton John Meeting on LGBT Rights
After two Russian comedians tricked Elton John into thinking he was on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the real Putin has given John a ring to schedule a meeting on LGBT rights.
Reuters reports that a spokesman for Putin, Dmitry Peskov, revealed to reporters that a call between the pair has actually occurred since the prank. “Putin phoned him,” Peskov said. “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.’” The spokesman added that Putin offered to speak with John and “discuss any subject which interested him.” A representative for John confirmed the call to Rolling Stone.
Last Tuesday, “Putin” called John to discuss gay rights in Russia and made arrangements to meet in Moscow during the singer’s visit. “Thank you to President Vladimir Putin for reaching out and speaking via telephone with me today,” he wrote on Instagram.
Following the reveal that it was a prank, John responded earnestly about the situation. “Pranks are funny. Homophobia, however, is never funny,” he wrote. “I love Russia and my offer to talk to President Putin about LGBT right still stands. I will always stand up for those that are being degraded and discriminated against. If this unfortunate incident has helped push this vital issue back into the spotlight, then I am happy to be pranked on this occasion.”
John has frequently tried to set up a meeting with Putin during his visits to Russia, which made him more susceptible to the prank. In November 2014, the performer spoke out against Russia’s homophobia during a concert in St. Petersburg after a statue of Steve Jobs was taken down because Apple’s current CEO Tim Cook came out as gay.