Italian Prime Minister Duped by Notorious Russian Pranksters

Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, was recently ensnared in a fraudulent phone call.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Italian Prime Minister Duped by Notorious Russian Pranksters
© Getty Images News/Marcelo del Pozo

Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, was recently ensnared in a fraudulent phone call. The orchestrators? Two notorious Russian pranksters, who were once aiming to deceive former German Chancellor Angela Merkel. This revelation was confirmed by her office in Rome.

The Unexpected Phone Call

On September 18th, just before the UN General Assembly, Meloni received a call. The person on the other end introduced himself as the President of the East African Chambers, Azali Assoumani, who is also the current chair of the African Union.

But Meloni's office later learned that she was speaking with the Russian fraudsters popularly known as Vovan and Lexus. Though the Italian government has refrained from commenting on the call's contents, snippets of the conversation were disseminated by the Russian news agency Ria Novosti.

Vovan and Lexus, whose real names are Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexey Stolyarov, are not new to this game. Their history of fooling international figures, from world leaders to celebrities, is well-documented. In the call with Meloni, the Italian Prime Minister candidly expressed her concerns about Russia's war with Ukraine, describing it as a significant "pressure" on all parties involved.

Meloni’s Candid Reflections

"I see that there is a lot of fatigue from all sides," she remarked, suggesting the mounting tension and the urgent need for a resolution. “The challenge lies in identifying a solution that satisfies both parties while maintaining international law,” she continued, highlighting the complexity of the conflict.

The conversation also touched upon Italy’s role as a prime destination for Mediterranean migrants. Expressing her frustration, Meloni said, “They [foreign allies] do all concur that Italy must handle this issue on its own.

It’s a really foolish way of thinking." Alexei Stolyarov, one of the pranksters, seemed to appreciate Meloni’s candidness. “Unfortunately, many European politicians act like programmed robots and only voice opinions within their own circles,” he mentioned in a statement to Reuters, contrasting Meloni's forthrightness.

The Russian Pranksters’ Legacy

These fraudsters, rumored to have close ties with Putin's administration, have a history of similar pranks.

Notable victims include former British defense minister Ben Wallace and Berlin's ex-mayor Franziska Giffey. They once tried to hoodwink Merkel by posing as former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko. Their antics, though controversial, find applause among certain pro-Kremlin media and commentators.

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