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Elton John tried to give Vladimir Putin ‘a Donna Summer album and a kiss’. It didn’t quite work out

Nick Duffy November 2, 2020
Vladimir Putin and Sir Elton John

Vladimir Putin and Sir Elton John

Sir Elton John tried to send Vladimir Putin the gift of a Donna Summer album through journalist Andrew Marr, it has been revealed.

BBC political journalist Marr revealed that the famous singer had attempted to recruit him to deliver his gift to the notoriously anti-LGBT Russian leader, ahead of an interview with him.

Speaking on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch on November 1, Marr explained: “Putin, I interviewed at the [2014] Sochi Olympics, the Winter Olympics, and there was a big controversy from a lot of LGBT+ people because of the anti-gay propaganda coming out of Russia at the time.

“I was going to go to interview him, and I happened to see Elton John very shortly beforehand. He said, ‘I’m not going to tell you what to say or do, I just want you to give him a Donna Summer album’, he handed it over, ‘and a kiss from me’.

“I thought, I just can’t go up to the president of Russia and kiss him and give him a Donna Summer album.

“I did ask him about it all, he said he’s got many, many gay friends…. I didn’t quite believe him.”

Sir Elton John has had a long-running war of words with Vladimir Putin
Sir Elton John has had a long-running war of words with Vladimir Putin (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for EJAF)

Sir Elton had been entreating for a meeting with Putin at the time, seeking to discuss the country’s then-fresh 2013 “gay propaganda” law.

Elton John has challenged Vladimir Putin repeatedly on LGBT+ rights

While the Kremlin has suggested that its leader would be open to meeting the singer, who has a huge fanbase in Russia, no meeting has taken place.

Sir Elton John and Vladimir Putin have exchanged terse words repeatedly in recent years, with Sir Elton last year calling out Putin’s claim that Russia has “no problems” with LGBT+ people.

In an interview Putin had said: “Let everyone be happy, we have no problem with that. But this must not be allowed to overshadow the culture, traditions and traditional family values of millions of people making up the core population. Let a person grow up first before making a choice. [Leave] the children in peace.”

In a response, Sir Elton wrote: “I find duplicity in your comment that you want LGBT people to ‘be happy’ and that ‘we have no problem in that’.

“Yet Russian distributors chose to heavily censor my film Rocketman by removing all references to my finding true happiness through my 25 year relationship with David [Furnish, his husband] and the raising of my two beautiful sons. This feels like hypocrisy to me.

“I am proud to live in a part of the world where our governments have evolved to recognise the universal human right to love whoever we want.

“And I’m truly grateful for the advancement in government policies that have allowed and legally supported my marriage to David. This has brought us both tremendous comfort and happiness.”

Asked about the singer’s comments, Putin responded: “I deeply respect him, he is a musical genius and we all love his performance, but I believe he’s mistaken.”

More: Elton John, Sir Elton John, Vladimir Putin

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