David Furnish: Putin is a genuinely lovely man
Sir Elton John's husband David Furnish says Vladimir Putin is a "genuinely lovely" man.
The Russian president recently called the 'Rocket Man' singer to apologise after he was pranked by TV presenters who pretended to be Putin and he is keen to find the time for a discussion with the star, who has asked for a meeting with the premier to discuss his stance on gay rights.
David, 52, told the Daily Mirror newspaper: "Putin is lovely. He and Elton spoke on the phone and the Kremlin have confirmed that.
"Now they're trying to get a date in the diary to talk face to face. That may surprise people but I take people as I find them and he was so polite and lovely on the phone.
"He's genuinely lovely. Besides, this isn't about politics -I'm not a politician - it's about humanity."
Presenters Vladimir Krasnov and Aleksei Stolyarov managed to fool Elton in a phone call in which the 68-year-old singer agreed to attend a gay pride parade in Moscow and spoke of his concern about violence in Russia towards members LGBT community.
He also asked for a face-to-face meeting with the president, whose country has long been blasted for its treatment of homosexuals.
Afterwards he took to Instagram to post a picture of Putin and wrote: "Thank-you to President Vladimir Putin for reaching out and speaking via telephone with me today. I look to forward to meeting with you face-to-face to discuss LGBT equality in Russia."
However, the pranksters confirmed it was a hoax and aired a recording of the conversation on state TV, before publishing it on YouTube.
After the call was revealed to be fake, Elton wrote on Instagram: "Pranks are funny. Homophobia, however, is never funny. If this unfortunate incident has helped push this vital issue back into the spotlight I'm happy to be pranked."