Vladimir Putin denies Elton John's phone conversation claims
Vladimir Putin has apparently said he is willing to meet with Sir Elton John to discuss Russia's attitude to gay rights - but has denied the pop star's claim the pair chatted over the phone about the subject.
A spokesman for the Russian president knocked back the Rocket Man singer's confirmation that they discussed the country's well-publicised attitudes to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.
It came after the British musician, who has two young sons with husband David Furnish, posted a photo of Mr Putin on Instagram thanking him for "reaching out and speaking via telephone" about the subject.
Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies later that the president had not spoken with Sir Elton, 68.
Mr Peskov said: "Putin did not have a conversation with Elton John, and, what's more, we have not received any requests from him for a meeting.
"The president has always been open to discuss human rights issues.
"The president, I'm sure, will be ready to meet with Elton John, too, if there is such a request."
It came after the pop star's publicist Gary Farrow confirmed the pair had been in contact.
Their conversation follows Sir Elton's offer of talks with the Russian leader after speaking at a conference in neighbouring Ukraine, where he met with the country's president Petro Poroshenko to lobby him about LGBT rights.
The singer, whose real name is Reginald Dwight, had criticised the Russian president's "ridiculous" stance on gay rights and accused Mr Putin of saying "stupid things" in reference to his warning to gay people travelling to the Winter Olympics to "leave the children in peace".
Russia also passed a law banning homosexual "propaganda" among children in June 2013, sparking an international outcry.
Sir Elton has been outspoken on the issue of gay rights before, most recently when, earlier this year, he temporarily boycotted Dolce and Gabbana after the fashion designers called children conceived by IVF "synthetic".