Russia's Vladimir Putin Calls Elton John — For Real This Time

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By Alexey Eremenko and Henry Austin

Can you feel the love tonight? Vladimir Putin has called Elton John — and this time it’s for real.

Weeks after a pair of pranksters fooled the singer into thinking that he was talking to the Russian leader about gay rights in the country, Putin put in a brief personal call on Thursday.

“He told Elton, I know they pulled a prank on the phone with you, please don't hold a grudge, they are harmless fellows,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“He also said he knows how popular Elton John is and is ready to meet him and discuss any questions that interest him if their schedules can be aligned at some point in the future,” Peskov added.

There was no immediate comment from the singer, who has criticized the Russian leader’s "ridiculous" record on gay rights and denounced a 2013 law criminalizing what it calls gay "propaganda."

John — who played in the Soviet Union in 1979 and still performs regularly in Russia — has also criticized the Russian leader for suggesting, just before the Sochi Olympics last year, that gay people prey on children.

A few weeks ago, John posted a photo of Putin on Instagram and thanked him for a phone call a few weeks ago.

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The Kremlin quickly denied there had been any such conversation and two Russian pranksters later took credit for the call.

Vladimir Krasnov, a well-known Russian practical joker, told NBC News that he and his partner, Alexei Stolyanov, were behind it. They later aired the conversation on Russian television and posted it on YouTube.

The pranking pair have previously targeted former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and a host of Russian celebrities.