Artist News Gigs & Festivals

Elton John hopes “to be in Russia again and often” after meeting with Vladimir Putin falls through

By | Published on Tuesday 31 May 2016

Elton John

Elton John didn’t manage to sit down with Russian president Vladimir Putin while he was in the country for a performance yesterday, despite plans for such a meeting being pencilled in last September.

As you might remember, John said in an interview last year that he wanted to talk to Putin to discuss the increasingly concerning issues around LGBT rights – or a lack thereof – in Russia. Then John announced that he’d had a chat with Putin to arrange a meeting later in the year. Then it turned out that he’d actually been pranked by some Russian TV presenters. Then Putin did actually phone him and say that he’d love to have a chat in person.

Eight months later, that still hasn’t happened. The latest opportunity arose last week, as John was in Moscow to perform at the Crocus City Hall last night. But it all fell through because of a scheduling conflict. “We were in correspondence a couple of weeks ago, because there was an agreement that, if their schedules allow, this meeting could take place”, said Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “President Putin expressed readiness for this meeting. But this time, the meeting won’t take place, unfortunately. Their schedules do not match up. But this does not mean that such a meeting won’t take place next time”.

Speaking on stage last night, John said: “As some of you may know, I hoped to meet with President Putin on this trip, and although it wasn’t possible, I’m deeply grateful to him for inviting me to discuss some serious issues in Russia, including LGBT, and HIV and AIDS. I very much hope we will find time in the future to meet and discuss”.

He also commented on the president’s wife’s new awareness campaign on HIV and AIDS, launched earlier this month, saying: “I would like to commend Mrs Svetlana Medvedeva for helping to raise national awareness about HIV and AIDS in recent weeks. This is so necessary. A dialogue of compassion it truly what is needed to end the AIDS epidemic”.

“I hope to be in Russia again and often, and I want to be helpful in any way I can in helping to create an AIDS-free future for everyone who is infected in Russia”, he continued. “I promise you that I will try my best for every single Russian with HIV and AIDS”.