Vladimir Putin Didn't Really Call Sir Elton John to Talk about LGBT Rights

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during an opening ceremony of the MAKS International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow, Russia, August 25, 2015. Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Updated | So it was a hoax after all.

Not long after reports emerged that Russian President Vladimir Putin reached out to Sir Elton John to discuss Russia's stance on homosexuality, a Russian comedy duo reportedly said on Wednesday they had punked the popular musician.

"Yes, it was us," Vladimir Krasnov, one of comedians, told the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda. He added that a recording of their conversation with John would air on a Russian comedy show on Wednesday.

In a post on his official Instagram page posted on Monday, Sir Elton thanked Putin for "reaching out and speaking via telephone with me today," and said that he looked forward "to meeting with you face-to-face to discuss LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] equality in Russia."

The Kremlin denied the reports, with Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov told reporters, "Putin did not have a conversation with Elton John and, more importantly, we did not receive any kind of offer about a meeting," suggesting that the famous signer had been a victim of a hoax.

Peskov went on to seemingly criticize Sir Elton's Instagram announcement saying, "Unfortunately, we don't know how authentic this post and this account are, given that it is written in English rather incorrectly. I don't think Sir Elton John would have written so incorrectly."

A December report by international NGO Human Rights Watch claimed that Russian authorities had failed to prevent homophobic violence against LGBT people in the country. ILGA Europe, which campaigns for an end to discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity, ranked Russia as the second-worst place to be a non-heterosexual person in Europe, just above Azerbaijan in its 2015 report on equality for LGBT plus intersexrights in Europe.

Last week, Sir Elton was in Kiev for the YES Ukraine conference, a pro-European meeting where he spoke about LGBT equality in the workplace. He also met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and urged him to toughen Ukraine's stance on LGBT discrimination, according to further posts on the star's Instagram page.

This article has been updated to reflect comments by the Kremlin and reports that the phone call was a hoax.