SOCHI, Russia — Seeking to buffet criticism of his government’s anti-gay policies, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Thursday his plan to perform a duet with Elton John at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics on February 7.
Putin called John an “outstanding person [and] musician,” adding, “Millions of our people sincerely love him despite his orientation.
“To prove that neither I nor the people of Russia have anything against gay people, I plan to perform with Elton in on the world’s biggest stage.”
Putin noted that Eminem performed with Elton in 2001 when people said his lyrics were homophobic. “That showed the world that Em isn’t a homophobe,” Putin said in a press conference early Thursday.
“Even though his latest single ‘Rap God’ was filled with homophobic language, nobody called him out on it because everyone knows a stage performance with Elton John equals lifetime endorsement from the LGBT community.”
Though he admitted he had not “thought much about” song choices, the ex-KGB agent said he would be willing to let John choose between “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” “Tiny Dancer,” and “Crocodile Rock.”
“Hell, I’ll even sing ‘Daniel,’ and that’s a song about a dude. I also promise to be shirtless while I do it, though I probably wasn’t going to wear a shirt anyway,” Putin added.
According to sources who have heard the song, “Daniel” is about the singer’s older brother, not a gay lover.