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Story highlights

Pop star responds to a prank by a Russian TV station that called him

The caller pretended to be President Vladimir Putin discussing gay rights in Russia

(CNN) —  

Pranks may be for giggles. But gay rights – not so much, Elton John says.

The singer apparently thought he was chatting about gay rights with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week, posting an Instagram photo thanking Putin for the call.

“Pranks are funny. Homophobia, however is never funny,” he said in a post Thursday. “I love Russia and my offer to talk to President Putin about LGBT rights still stands.”

The call

During the prank call, the singer apparently thought he was chatting about gay rights with the Russian leader.

Russian state television broadcast excerpts from the phone call Wednesday night.

“Hello Sir Elton,” a man claiming to be Putin says in the recording. “I was told that you wanted to discuss important problems of Russian reality.”

John purportedly responds that he’s eager to meet in person. He later posted an Instagram message thanking Putin for the call.

Man admits to prank

A Russian TV personality known for his pranks later said he made the call – not the Kremlin.

In an interview with Russian tabloid newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, a Russian celebrity prankster known as “Vovan” — whose real name is Vladimir Krasnov — described how he and his comedy sidekick made a prank call to the British singer, playing the roles of Putin and a press secretary.

’Happy to be pranked’

John said while the pair can brag about the gotcha moment, he is proud to be pranked if it sheds light on gay rights.

“If this unfortunate incident has helped push this vital issue back into the spotlight, then I am happy to be pranked on this occasion,” he said.

In Moscow, Putin’s office was categorical that the singer, who regularly takes up gay rights issues, had it all wrong.

The pop star’s representatives weren’t offering any answers Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Putin post remained on his Instagram account, gathering hundreds of comments ranging from praise to abuse.

John had said in an interview over the weekend with the BBC that he wished to meet with Putin to talk about the treatment of gay people in Russia.

“If there really is such a proposal or request from Elton John,” Peskov said, “I have no doubt that the President would be ready to meet with him and clarify any questions that he has.”

CNN’s Catherine Shoichet and Jethron Mullen contributed to this report.