Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed out of a meeting with British rock star and gay rights activist Elton John.
The two spoke last September by phone when Putin pledged to meet the vocalist to “discuss whatever problems are of interest.”
Vladimir Putin Calls Elton John for Real This Time.
“We were in correspondence a couple of weeks ago, because there was an understanding that, if their schedules allow, this meeting could take place,” said Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Putin.
“President Putin expressed readiness for this assembly. But this time, the meeting won’t take place, sadly – their schedules do not match up. But this doesn’t mean that such a meeting won’t take place next time.”
Last September’s incident – which the singer laughed off at the time after posting a message on social media publicizing it – lead to a real offer from Putin to organize a meeting, when Putin later telephoned the singer to say he was open to “discuss whatever issues are of interest.”
The prank call – and succeeding real conversation – was started after Elton, during a visit to Ukraine, told the BBC that he would like to meet Putin to talk about Russia’s “preposterous” stance on gay rights.
Three years ago Russia introduced laws prohibiting the promotion of what it terms “nontraditional sexual relations” to minors. Gay rights activists in the country say the law has lead to an increase in assaults and homophobia on gay.