The prankster who duped Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson into an 18-minute hoax phone call has bragged about how he did it.
The hoax was staged by Vladimir ‘Vovan’ Kuznetsov and Alexei ‘Lexus’ Stolyarov, a pair of pranksters known as ‘Vovan and Lexus’.
The duo have made a habit of fooling politicians and pop stars into fake phone calls, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, US Senator John McCain and Elton John.
In their latest hoax, they impersonated the Nikol Pashinyan, the new prime minister of Armenia, and called Mr Johnson.
In an interview with Sky News, Stolyarov detailed how Sir Alan Duncan, the Minister of State for Europe and the Americas, put them in touch with the Foreign Secretary.
The hoax was staged by Vladimir ‘Vovan’ Kuznetsov (right) and Alexei ‘Lexus’ Stolyarov (left), a pair of pranksters known as ‘Vovan and Lexus’
‘We decided to call from the new authorities of Armenia and we heard that Sir Duncan congratulated Prime Minister,’ he said.
‘At first we called him and had some conversation where we asked him to arrange a new phone call but with foreign secretary. So it was pretty nice I think.’
He added: ‘It was pretty easy. Who is really guilty is Sir Duncan.’
In the interview, Stolyarov also admitted that the pair have ‘great experience in their practice,’ saying that they’ve called the presidents of Turkey, Ukraine and Belarus as well as a number of other officials.
The duo’s antics have mostly targeted Russia’s foes, leading to accusations they are working on the orders of the Kremlin or the nation’s security service, the FSB, which they both have denied.
During the call, Boris Johnson congratulated the caller and discussed dealing with Moscow
‘Of course any of our citizens have a link to security service because security service defends us, every citizen,’ Stolyarov added.
‘And I have the same phrase, in Russia, all our lives is KGB and all people there are agents.’
In the 18-minute call with Mr Johnson that was later posted online and confirmed by the foreign ministry as genuine, the Foreign Secretary discussed dealing with Moscow.
Mr Johnson is heard congratulating the caller – whom he thinks is new Pashinyan – before promptly turning to Britain’s frayed relations with Russia.
‘We have to stand firm against them though I appreciate that your geography dictates a balancing act,’ Mr Johnson said, offering ‘support and encouragement’ and an invitation to visit the UK.
‘It’s very important, I think, prime minister that we don’t have a new Cold War,’ he added on the call, advising ‘determination and firmness’ in dealing with Moscow.
‘We will continue to tighten the squeeze on some of the oligarchs who surround Putin,’ he said, adding Britain would seek new sanctions against key figures around the Russian president.
When the caller noted there were a lot of Russian oligarchs in Britain, Mr Johnson agreed.
‘You throw a stone in Kensington and you’ll hit an oligarch,’ he said. ‘But some of them are close to Putin and some of them aren’t.’
In their latest hoax, they impersonated the Nikol Pashinyan (pictured), the new prime minister of Armenia, and called Mr Johnson
A Foreign Office spokesperson said staff ‘checked it out and knew immediately it was a prank call’.
‘The Foreign Secretary realised it was a hoax, and ended the call,’ it added in a statement.
In the audio recording posted on YouTube, Mr Johnson appeared to hang up following 18 minutes of conversation, after growing suspicious of the caller’s claims Putin was funding British opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
During the latest call, Mr Johnson was also questioned about the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury in March.
Asked about British confidence in their assessment that Putin was behind the assassination attempt, Mr Johnson said: ‘We’re, like, almost 100 percent sure.’
The Foreign Office spokesperson said: ‘The use of chemical weapons in Salisbury and Syria, and recent events in Armenia are serious matters.
‘These childish actions show the lack of seriousness of the caller and those behind him.’