The openly-gay Rocket Man hitmaker tried and failed to land some time with Putin when he returned to the nation last November (14), a year after he defied protests to perform two concerts there in 2013 amid a storm of controversy over the country's law which bans the promotion of homosexuality to minors.

Instead, Elton used his 2014 show in St. Petersburg to hit out at the legislation, defiantly telling fans, "As a gay man, I've always felt so welcome here in Russia. Stories of Russian fans - men and women who fell in love dancing to Nikita or their kids who sing along to Circle of Life - mean the world to me... If I'm not honest about who I am, I couldn't write this music. It's not gay propaganda. It's how I express life. If we start punishing people for that, the world will lose its humanity."

The singer, who Putin has previously described as an "extraordinary person" who is beloved in Russia "regardless of his sexual orientation", admits he is still hopeful of having the chance to use his fame to try to sway the president's opinion on the hot-button issue, even though he's not convinced he will have much influence over the conservative leader.

He tells the BBC, "I'd love to meet him. I'd love to sit down with him and talk to him... but unless you try... At least if I meet him and say, 'Come on, let's have a cup of tea and talk about this', he may laugh behind my back and... call me an absolute idiot, but at least I can have a conscience and say I tried...

"I'd say, 'Come on... gay people are not the problem. We are not the problem of the world. The world faces much bigger problems than gay people. Be accepting and let's all pull together and try and solve the problems of the world. Don't isolate and be prejudiced against gay people.'"

Elton adds, "I like the Russians. When I went there in 1979, I was astonished at how friendly and kind and lovely they were, and that's probably the only power I have is to use my fame and fortune to bring people together for music and then try to use the message of peace and acceptance and inclusion in my older age. I probably wouldn't have done this in my 40s or 50s because I was drunk, you know, I was a drug addict."