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24 Jun, 2021 18:53

British MPs caught out by pranksters pretending to be aide of Russian opposition figure Navalny, both reject requests for cash

British MPs caught out by pranksters pretending to be aide of Russian opposition figure Navalny, both reject requests for cash

A pair of Russian pranksters, who have become notorious for catching out public figures by pretending to be anyone from Greta Thunberg to Vladimir Putin, have struck again, successfully tricking two unwitting UK politicians.

The latest victims of Vovan and Lexus are British Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, and MP Chris Bryant, who represents the opposition Labour Party and chairs Parliament’s Russia group.

The pranksters pretended to be Leonid Volkov, a close aide of jailed opposition figure Alexey Navalny, and tried to get the two MPs to agree to fund the opposition figure’s movement – but both of them ended up denying the request.

Bryant told Vovan and Lexus that the government would not supply Navalny with money because the Russian government would use it against the movement.

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“That’s the one thing I can’t help with, Leonid. I have no money to give, I’m afraid,” Bryant said. “I’m not good on money.”

Bryant also gave his opinion that the opposition figure can’t be homophobic, with the gay MP reasoning that he once met Navalny, and “it didn’t seem to bother him.”

Outside of the discussion about funding, Bryant told the pranksters that he would do “anything he can to help and support,” but looked uncomfortable throughout the entire encounter.

Tugendhat also rejected the prankster’s request for cash, telling the fake Volkov to go to the government directly if he wants funding.

“I’m not going to be sending money to anybody, I’m afraid,” Tugendhat said. “I don’t have any. I get my salary. The committee doesn’t get any money.”

To the MP’s bemusement, Vovan and Lexus also asked for “a few bitcoin” – a proposition that was also rejected.

“If you want money, go and ask the government. I’m not in the government,” Tugendhat concluded, before rushing off.

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In recent months, Vovan and Lexus have pranked Dutch parliamentarians, Ukrainian MPs, and an American senator, Ben Cardin. Most famously, though, the two staged a prank call with top directors of Amnesty International, shortly after it was hit with a backlash after removing Navalny’s ‘prisoner of conscience’ status.

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