The Kremlin has confirmed that Vladimir Putin has agreed to meet with Sir Elton John for real – after the singer was fooled by a prankster.
The veteran singer, who has a large following in Russia, fell victim to a hoax earlier this month after he asked President Putin to meet with him to discuss his country’s ‘gay propaganda’ law and persecution of LGBT people.
Sir Elton later claimed he had spoken on the phone to Putin – but after denials from the Kremlin, it emerged the call was a hoax masterminded by Russian TV pranksters.
Following the incident, the Kremlin has today confirmed that Vladimir Putin has spoken with the singer for real – and invited him to a genuine meeting.
The BBC reports that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed President Putin had called the singer today – and asked him not to be offended by the hoax.
He told the star that he is ready to meet with him, schedules permitting, to discuss “any issues of interest” to the star.
Peskov told reporters: “Putin called and said: ‘I know you were called by pranksters. Don’t get offended by those guys, they are harmless, though this certainly does not justify their actions.
“And Putin said he knew what a popular artist Elton John is, and if their schedules allow it, he is ready to meet and discuss any questions that interest him.”
Many have reacted with extreme scepticism to the claim.
In the previous hoax call, the fake ‘Putin’ asked the singer whether he would attend a Pride rally in Moscow, but he does not twig the call is a joke, saying: “Thank you. You made my day. This day, and the conversation was the most wonderful and beautiful in my life.”
Sir Elton wrote after the ruse was exposed: “Pranks are funny. Homophobia, however is never funny.
“I love Russia and my offer to talk to President Putin about LGBT rights 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.”
Listen to the 11 hoax minute call below: