Elton John's phone call with 'Vladimir Putin' revealed as the work of Russian pranksters

Vladimir Krasnov and Alexei Stolyarov claim it was easy to contact the singer

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The Independent Online

It seemed like a diplomatic breakthrough of global significance – the pop superstar turned equality campaigner Sir Elton John had managed to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to talk to him about gay rights.

But it appears the singer-songwriter was simply a victim of two Russian pranksters.

Vladimir Krasnov and Alexei Stolyarov, known as Vova and Lexus, told the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper that it had been easy to get through to the 68-year-old Sir Elton.

They said he “immediately believed in the reality” of the conversation. They claimed that he had told the fake Putin: “This day, and the conversation was the most wonderful and beautiful in my life.”

 

 

 

The call lasted 11 minutes and was due to be broadcast in full on Russian state television.

The idea that the Russian president would speak to Sir Elton is not totally far-fetched. Last weekend, the singer met Petro Poroshenko, the president of neighbouring Ukraine, to talk about “the importance of legislative changes to support LGBT rights”.

Writing on Instagram, Sir Elton said: “Specifically, I asked [Mr Poroshenko] to: 1. Ban discrimination in the workplace based on sexuality and gender identity.  2. Provide criminal penalties for hate crimes. I want to thank him and the First Lady for welcoming me and David [Furnish, his husband] so warmly.”

On Monday, Sir Elton wrote about what he appears to have believed was a conversation with Mr Putin.

“Thank you to President Vladimir Putin for reaching out and speaking via telephone with me today. I look to forward to meeting with you face-to-face” he said.

A spokesman for Mr Putin later denied the conversation had taken place.

Sir Elton has previously 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”.

Russia passed a law banning homosexual “propaganda” among children in June 2013, sparking an international outcry.

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