Russian pranksters trick UK Home Secretary (VIDEO)
A pair of Russian pranksters posted a video on Thursday in which one of the duo, impersonating Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmygal, told British Home Secretary Priti Patel that he hoped Britons were fine with Ukrainian “nationalists” settling in their country. Patel said the British public wasn’t worried about it.
In a video call the duo – known as Vovan and Lexus – say took place on March 15, the caller impersonating Shmygal tells Patel, “I hope that the families will not be afraid from our nationalists, as Putin tried to make them fear.”
Patel at first replied that “we launched the sponsorship scheme yesterday, just for people to express their interest in housing Ukrainian nationals.”
“No, I mean people who are nationalists, as Putin tried to fear all the world,” the prankster clarified. “There are a lot of Banderas, neo-Nazis, I hope that UK citizens are not afraid of them.”
“Clearly they are not,” Patel responded. “The support is very significant here, it really is.”
The clip posted by the duo is less than a minute long and lacks any further context. The pair promised to release a longer version “in a few days on our channel.”
The conversation took place a day after the British government launched the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme, in which British citizens were asked to “open their homes to those fleeing the war in Ukraine.” Ukrainians with an offer of accommodation from the UK could then obtain visas to live and work in the UK for up to three years.
By mentioning “Banderas” and “neo-Nazis,” the notorious pranksters were referring to followers of Nazi collaborator and terrorist Stepan Bandera, considered a hero by many on the Ukrainian right, and the prevalence of racialist ideologies in Ukrainian society.
Vovan and Lexus (Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov) are well-known for their pranks, and their past targets have included celebrities such as Elton John and Prince Harry, and world leaders such as Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In another teaser clip recorded last week and posted on Tuesday, the pair spoke to British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace. Again posing as Shmygal, one of the two attempted to talk Wallace into helping Ukraine develop nuclear weapons.
Wallace responded that he believed “Russia would really hate it,” before adding, “the principle is: We will support Ukraine as our friend in the choices you make.” However, Wallace appeared to be speaking in terms of alliances or political support, and noted that he couldn’t comment on anything else before speaking to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Britain’s Ministry of Defense demanded that YouTube remove the video, calling it “doctored by the Russian state … to try and sap the morale” of the Ukrainians. However, as of Thursday evening it remains online. Vovan and Lexus have previously been accused of working for the Russian state, something they have repeatedly denied.