"I can responsibly say that Vladimir Putin has not spoken to Sir Elton John.”
A spokesman for the Kremlin released that head-scratcher of a statement to Russian news agencies on Tuesday, hours after the multiple Grammy award-winning artist publicly thanked Putin on Instagram for speaking with him on the phone.
"Thank-you to President Vladimir Putin for reaching out and speaking via telephone with me today," John wrote in a caption accompanying a photo of Putin. "I look ... forward to meeting with you face-to-face to discuss LGBT equality in Russia."
In an interview with the BBC earlier this week, John, who was in Ukraine at the time, said he'd like to meet with Putin to discuss the country's "isolating and prejudiced" stance against gay people.
The country passed a "gay propaganda" law in 2013, which made it illegal to provide information about homosexuality to minors -- something John dismissed as "ridiculous."
"It's probably pie in the sky," he told the BBC of the likelihood Putin would call him. "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."
The Kremlin denied that a phone conversation had taken place between the Russian leader and the pop star. In a call with Russian media on Tuesday, Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, questioned the authenticity of John's Instagram post.
However, he also indicated that Putin would consider such a meeting. “I don’t doubt that if there is such a request, the president will be ready to meet with Elton John among others to give answers to all the questions that he might ask,” he said in a translation provided by The Guardian. “But we haven’t received such signals yet.”
“Putin is always ready to explain how things really are,” Peskov added.
John's publicist, Gary Farrow, confirmed the authenticity of the Instagram post to The Associated Press.
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