Saturday, September 26, 2015

Putin Calls Elton for Real

Putin's call came just a week after a pair of Russian comedians tricked John, 68, into thinking he was talking to Putin on the phone in a stunt that the entertainer laughed off, while saying he hoped it would highlight discrimination against gay people.


This time, Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, said the Russian leader really had phoned John, who has used his status as one of the world's most famous gay celebrities to push for equal rights for homosexuals around the world.

"Putin phoned him," Peskov told reporters. "He said: 'I know some guys played a trick on you on the phone, but don't get offended. They are harmless people, though that of course does not justify what they did.'"

Putin told John that since he was a popular performer he would be ready to meet him and discuss any subject which interested him, if their schedules coincided, Peskov said.

Western states and human rights activists have criticised Russia for its treatment of gay people, and John has previously spoken out against a 2013 law banning the dissemination of "gay propaganda" among young people.

Putin has said he is not prejudiced against gay people, but has made comments which activists have criticised as being ambiguous and insulting towards homosexuals.

John, who plays to vast audiences in Russia when he tours, could not immediately be reached for comment.

-SBS

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made several attempts to reach British musician Sir Elton John before finally holding a telephone conversation with him, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Friday.

Peskov added that the meeting between Putin and John may take place if their working schedules allow that. "Putin decided to call him several days ago, and they could not reach each other. Elton John was somewhere in Brazil and so on. He does not sit in one spot as well. He has an active position, and that is why he travels so much. And you are aware about the president’s working schedule as well," Peskov explained.

The spokesman added that "Elton John has his own schedule to keep." "If schedules allow, then such meeting could take place. At least, they both are ready," Peskov confirmed.

Peskov earlier told journalists that it was hard for the Russian ambassador in London to convince Sir Elton John that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to talk to him by phone.

"At first he [Elton John] hesitated," Peskov said. "We decided to ask Russian Ambassador to London Alexander Yakovenko to get in touch with the musician and tell him about the phone call. In the beginning, Yakovenko had certain problems to explain to the musician that he was really the Russian ambassador and that the real president of Russia wanted to talk to him," Peskov said adding the ambassador’s diplomatic skills helped him to convince Elton John.

Peskov said that Elton John had wished to meet the Russian president.

"In this case, the president deemed it necessary to support his initiative especially after two Russian prankers had goofed on Elton John [two well-known Russian prankers disguised as Putin gave a call to Elton John last week]", Peskov explained.

"The president emphasized that he would be ready to answer any questions that interest Elton John if their working schedules cross," he added.

- RBTH

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