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Andrew Marr has revealed that Sir Elton John once gave him a daring message to deliver to Vladimir Putin.

Marr recalled the incident in an appearance on Good Morning Britian where he spoke about meeting and interviewing the Russian leader in 2014.

The broadcaster met Putin ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics but said that while he was speaking with him, he couldn’t get something Elton John has said out of his head.

He explained: “I was in a slightly disturbed state myself because I’d just interviewed Elton John before I had gone out to Sochi in Russia.

“If you remember there was a great big gay rights issue at the Winter Olympics – suspicions that the Russians were homophobic.

“And Elton John said, ‘Oh, you’re off to see Vladimir Putin?’. I said, ‘Yes’. And Elton John said, "well give him a Donna Summer album and a kiss from me.”

Marr explained that John’s message was going around in his head as he spoke to the controversial Russian leader, who he went to describe as “extraordinary”.

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Of meeting him, Marr said: “He was extraordinary. He’s got this very famous, cold, cold stare that people talk about, but I would say, listening to him, because he was being interviewed, then in lots of different languages, he’s one of the cleverest men that I have ever interviewed.

“He may not be any more, but he was then.”

Under Putin’s orders, Russian troops have invaded Ukraine, causing a number of civilian casualties and forcing over 1.5 million people to flee the country.

Marr admitted he was disappointed by the allegations that the UK government has issued just 50 visas for Ukrainians fleeing war to come to our country.

He told hosts Susanna Reid and Richard Madeley: “I am, I think, as angry as both of you seem to be about the lack of generosity and openness when we’re bringing people into this country, refugees.”

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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