Elton John still wants to speak to Putin on gay rights after imposter's prank

English composer and singer Elton John.
English composer and singer Elton John.PHOTO: EPA
Comedian Vladimir Krasnov later said he had called Elton John pretending to be Putin.
Comedian Vladimir Krasnov later said he had called Elton John pretending to be Putin.REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Singing superstar Elton John said Thursday he still wanted to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin about gay rights after he was duped by an imposter.

"Pranks are funny. Homophobia, however, is never funny," the British singer wrote on Instagram as he posted a picture of a bloodied man, apparently the victim of an anti-gay attack.

The Rocket Man singer, who is gay, raised eyebrows Monday after posting a picture of Putin on the social media site and thanking him for reaching out in a telephone call.

The Kremlin denied that Putin had contacted the artist.

A prankster, Vladimir Krasnov, later said he had called pretending to be Putin after the singer had publicly voiced hope at meeting the Russian leader.

After several days of silence, John wrote that he would "always stand up for those that are being degraded and discriminated against."

"I love Russia and my offer to talk to President Putin about LGBT rights still stands," he said.

"If this unfortunate incident has helped push this vital issue back into the spotlight, then I am happy to be pranked on this occasion."

In 2013, Putin triggered outrage among rights activists when he signed off on a law that bans the "promotion" or display of homosexuality in front of minors.

The prankster, who goes by the nickname Vovan, earlier told AFP that John was "very happy and said that the call had made his day and that it was a miracle that it had taken place."