Legendary singer Elton John has led many to believe Russian President Vladimir Putin reached out to him via phone recently, suggesting that the two might meet at some point to discuss LGBT rights in Russia. The country has been blasted over the past few years for its discrimination against any sexual orientations outside of "traditional" heterosexual inclinations.
John, an outspoken gay man and equal rights advocate himself for many years, posted a picture of Putin on his Instagram alluding to the call and in the caption wrote, "I look to forward to meeting with [Putin] face-to-face to discuss LGBT equality in Russia."
A meeting between the two would be historic, but there's just one catch.
Putin's administration insists the call never happened. Dmitri S. Peskov, the president's press secretary, said of John's Instagram, "This does not correspond to reality. There was no conversation."
He went on to question whether the post was actually Elton John's (the account is verified), but did mention that Putin was open to discussion about everything and didn't doubt he would be willing to speak with the singer.
Some think John may have been prank called, but regardless, he has gone on record slamming Putin and Russia's stance on gay rights. Calling the president's attitude towards gays "ridiculous," he told BBC in an interview over the weekend, "I would like to meet him. 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."
Whether or not the call actually happened, having a public figure and advocate of John's status speak to Putin about LGBT rights would be a landmark event considering Russia's nearly unflinching view towards the issue. After the who-called-who-didn't nonsense is cleared up, maybe a face-to-face conversation can happen.
UPDATE: Sadly, as suspected, the call was a hoax engineered by two Russian pranksters posing as Putin. No word from John on the situation, but Peskov did say the pranksters should apologize to him, and that Putin would actually be ready to speak with John if asked.
(H/T: CBS Washington)