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1 Apr, 2018 21:26

Belarus expels Moscow diplomats? ‘Leading Russia expert’ falls for cheeky April Fool’s joke

Belarus expels Moscow diplomats? ‘Leading Russia expert’ falls for cheeky April Fool’s joke

Anders Aslund’s deep knowledge of Eastern European politics was no match for April Fool’s, when the supposedly all-knowing Russia commentator fruitlessly cheered fake news about Belarus expelling Russian diplomats.

Aslund, who was presented by the American think tank the Atlantic Council as a “leading specialist” on Russian economic policy and Eastern Europe in general, has been featured on the BBC, CNN and the Washington Post as a commentator on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration.

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In 1999, he predicted the imminent collapse of Russia (something he is still waiting for). Now, in 2018, Aslund appears to have been left slightly red-faced after he provided online commentary on a breaking news prank regarding further expulsions for Russian diplomats.

The prank was carried out by Martin Kragh, of the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, who tweeted: “Breaking: Belarus expels 5 Russian diplomats in solidarity with the UK. ‘Russia is on the wrong side of history,’ says [President Aleksandr] Lukashenko.”

Aslund even commentated on the ‘development,’ stating that it revealed how Putin had “profoundly” isolated his country. “This is not ‘Global Russia’ but Russia alone,” he added.

Kragh later revealed his tweet to be a prank by alluding to the date it was posted - April 1st - a day for playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes.

While Minsk and Moscow have recently locked horns over a temporary milk produce export ban, the two comprise a Union State, making the idea of expelling diplomats somewhat awkward. The Day of Unity of Peoples of Russia and Belarus, which marks the union treaty, is actually celebrated on April 2.

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