The telephone conversation produced a warm note on Instagram from John, who unexpectedly posted a portrait of Putin earlier this week and wrote: “Thank-you to President Vladimir Putin for reaching out and speaking via telephone with me today. I look forward to meeting with you face-to-face to discuss LGBT equality in Russia.” He added the hashtag #sharethelove.
For just a moment, it seemed that John's star power could break through the acrimonious debate over Russian laws against "gay propaganda" that were adopted to international condemnation in 2013. John told the BBC last week that he would "love to sit down" with Putin and try to change his mind about the laws.
That moment was short lived. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov soon denied that the conversation ever took place, while John’s manager insisted that it had.
Enter Vovan and Lexus (real name Alexey Stolyarov), who admitted Wednesday that they impersonated Putin and his press secretary and reached John by phone in the early afternoon in London.
"Elton John was very much waiting for his call, so he immediately believed in the reality of the conversation with the people that we said we were," Krasnov said. "He said: "Thank you, you've made my day. This day and conversation were the most remarkable and beautiful in my life!"
Krasnov's remarks to the newspaper were brief, and it was not immediately clear why they chose to target John. While their list of victims has included garden-variety Russian celebrities, they have focused on political enemies of the Kremlin, including former Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili, former heavyweight boxer and now Kiev mayor Vitali Klitschko, Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, and Russian journalist and socialite Ksenia Sobchak.