Europe

Elton John: Kremlin denies Putin phoned over gay rights

Sir Elton John and Russian President Vladimir Putin Image copyright BBC/AP
Image caption Sir Elton has said he wants to discuss gay rights in Russia with President Putin

The Kremlin has firmly denied that President Vladimir Putin contacted pop star Sir Elton John, who has said he wants to talk to him about gay rights.

Sir Elton had said he wanted to talk to Mr Putin about his "ridiculous" stance.

Later, a message on the musician's Instagram account thanked Mr Putin for "reaching out" in a phone conversation.

But a Kremlin spokesman said no conversation between the two men had taken place - and hinted that the call could have been a hoax.

Sir Elton's Instagram message added: "I look forward to meeting with you face to face to discuss LGBT equality in Russia."

His office said that the two men had spoken.

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that reports of a conversation were "not true".

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionSir Elton admitted his wish to meet Mr Putin was "probably pie in the sky"

"I don't know who spoke to Elton John but President Putin did not speak to him," he said.

"I don't know [what happened] but President Putin did not speak to Elton John and most importantly we didn't receive any proposals to meet."

He added: "If the president does get such a signal from Elton John, the president has always been open to discuss any... human rights problems, any issues. He is always ready to clarify the real situation."

Russia has faced international criticism for its laws against homosexuality, including a 2013 bill prosecuting people for providing information about homosexuality to people under 18.

A report by Human Rights Watch last year said Russia was failing to prevent and prosecute homophobic violence amid a rise in attacks against minorities.

During his interview, Sir Elton admitted he thought it was unlikely he would meet President Putin.

"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."

More on this story