Elton John and the Kremlin have been giving conflicting accounts of an incident in which the singer says Russian President Vladimir Putin called him to discuss the country’s policy on gay rights. The Kremlin denied that Putin ever placed the call, triggering what the U.K. publication The Telegraph calls “a bizarre war of words.”
“The veteran rock star said Mr Putin, who recently appeared to equate homosexuality with pedophilia and urged gay people to ‘leave kids alone,’ had called him and suggested they might meet,” the publication reports.
After the alleged phone call, John even posted a thank-you to Putin on Instagram, which you can see below.
It turns out that John was apparently pranked by a couple of Russian TV show hosts.
“Television show hosts Vladimir Krasnov and Alexei Stolyarov, known as ‘Vova and Lexus,’ in an interview with a Russian website, said they prank-called the ‘Rocket Man’ singer and that the idea came to them after Sir Elton told the BBC over the weekend that after a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko he looked forward to a meeting with Mr Putin,” The Telegraph reports.
Krasnov told the Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda: “Alexei has great English, so he introduced himself as Dmitry Peskov (Mr. Putin’s spokesman) and translated our conversation. I was Vladimir Putin.”
He added: “We think that Putin is unlikely to want at least in the near future to meet with him and to call, but it turned out that Elton John was waiting for that call, so immediately believed in the reality of a conversation with the people that we represent. He said: ‘Thank you. You made my day. This day, and the conversation was the most wonderful and beautiful in my life.'”
The pair indicated they will air an audio recording of the phone call on Russia’s Channel 1.