Vladimir Putin has apparently said he is willing to meet with Elton John to discuss Russia’s attitude to gay rights – but has denied the pop star’s claim the pair chatted over the phone about the subject.
A spokesman for the Russian president knocked back the singer’s claim that they discussed the country’s well-publicised attitudes to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.
It came after the British musician, who has two young sons with husband David Furnish, posted a photo of Mr Putin on Instagram thanking him for “reaching out and speaking via telephone” about the subject.
Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies later that the president had not spoken with Elton (68). Mr Peskov said: “Putin did not have a conversation with Elton John, and, what’s more, we have not received any requests from him for a meeting.
“The president has always been open to discuss human rights issues.
“The president, I’m sure, will be ready to meet with Elton John, too, if there is such a request.”
It came after the pop star’s publicist confirmed the pair had been in contact.
Their claimed conversation follows Elton’s offer of talks with the Russian leader after speaking at a conference in Ukraine on LGBT rights.
The singer had criticised the Russian president’s “ridiculous” stance on gay rights and accused Mr Putin of saying “stupid things” in reference to his warning to gay people travelling to the Winter Olympics to “leave the children in peace”.