Elton John: Vladimir Putin called to talk gay rights

Elton John performs on stage at Staples Center on Saturday, October 4, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)
Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP

Rocketman Elton John wants to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin to urge him to change his tune on LGBT rights, and he could actually be one step closer, reports Vladimir Duthiers of CBS News' digital network CBSN.

When Elton John asked for a meeting with the Russian leader this past weekend, even he admitted it was a long shot.

"I'd love to sit down with him and talk to him...it's probably a pie in the sky," he said during an interview with the BBC. "He may laugh behind my back...and call me an absolute idiot, but at least I can have a conscience and say I tried."

So imagine the singer's surprise when he received a phone call from Russia just days later.

The best-selling artist took to Instagram Monday, thanking the Russian leader for "reaching out and speaking via telephone" with him. He also expressed hopes of meeting him in person to discuss LGBT equality in Russia.

"Putin loves celebrities...and you know it's not surprising that he would reach out to him and try to either cash in on this kind of exposure or to show that he's not so mean to gays as the West thinks he is," said New York Times contributor Julia Joffe.

John--married to David Furnish and a father of two--has long been a global advocate of gay rights. He's repeatedly criticized Russia, which has faced an international backlash for its highly controversial anti-gay laws.

The music icon also met with the President Petro Poroshenko of neighboring Ukraine Saturday and called on the country to better support the LGBT community.

It's not clear if the singer will have a face-to-face with Putin, or whether a meeting might feature a duet, but Sir Elton John's message to the Russian leader is clear.

"I'd say 'come on...gay people are not the problem here. They are not the problem of the world, the world faces much bigger problems than gay people,'" he said in his BBC appearance.

Soon after news of the phone call broke, the Kremlin released a statement denying any meeting between the two is being planned. An official said the only thing he knows about a meeting is what he's read in media reports.