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Call to Elton John: A Big Putin-On?

Call to Elton John: A Big Putin-On?

Russian pranksters

Two Russian comedians say it was them, not President Vladimir Putin, who called Elton John to discuss LGBT rights.

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When Elton John thought he was taking to Russian President Vladimir Putin, it was apparently just a couple of pranksters Putin him on.

The music star and activist, who during a visit to Ukraine last weekend expressed a wish to discuss LGBT rights with the neighboring nation's president, posted on Instagram Tuesday that he'd had a phone call from Putin. A spokesman for Putin quickly denied that the call had been made, and Wednesday two Russian comedians, Vladimir Krasnov and Alexei Stolyarov (pictured above), said they were behind the call.

"We just couldn't pass up this opportunity to see what Elton John would say if he thought he really was speaking to Putin," Krasnov, who posed as Putin during the call, told ABC News. Stolyarov played the president's press secretary and interpreter, Dmitry Peskov.

"Strange as it might seem, he didn't seem at all surprised," Krasnov continued. "There was no surprise at all. He was just very excited. He said how wonderful it was that I had called."

Krasnov and Stolyarov first announced to another network, NBC, that they had engineered the call. The men, who go by the stage names "Vovan and Lexus," have previously played pranks on former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and various Russian celebrities, NBC reports. According to the BBC, they also spoke to a Russian newspaper and appeared on television playing clips of the call (listen below).

There has so far been no official comment from Elton John, and his representatives did not respond to an inquiry from The New York Times asking if it was really him on the recording.

Krasnov did say something positive may come out of the prank, as Peskov said Putin would be willing to speak with John. Peskov also said the pranksters should apologize to the singer, though.

John has often denounced Russia's law against "gay propaganda" and noted the discrimination and violence LGBT people endure in the nation.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.