(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 05, 2021 Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives to give an update on the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic during a virtual press conference inside the new Downing Street Briefing Room in central London. - Boris Johnson rode his luck throughout his career, bouncing back from a succession of setbacks and scandals that would have sunk other less popular politicians. But the luck of a man once likened to a "greased piglet" for his ability to escape controversies finally ran out, after a slew of high-profile resignations from his scandal-hit government. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau / POOL / AFP)

The Russian comedians behind the Klitschko fake calls have admitted to being paid by Rutube and thus by Gazprom. In an interview with the ARD political magazine “Contrasts”, one of the comedians, Alexey Stolyarov, said: “We work for Rutube and are Rutube ambassadors. So we get our money from there.” Rutube is the Russian version of the American video platform YouTube and is a subsidiary of Gazprom Media, which belongs to the state-owned Gazprom group.

The comedians aka Wowan and Lexus had presented European politicians with fake calls in the past few weeks, pretending they were talking to Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko. Among others, Berlin’s mayor Franziska Giffey had made such a phone call, as well as the EU interior commissioner Ylva Johansson.

Jānis Sārts, director of the NATO Center of Excellence for Strategic Communications, told ARD: “This means that they clearly receive state funds for what they do.” For Putin’s autocratic regime, humor is a “real threat”, which is why it’s better for him was to “control humor,” Sārts told ARD. (mlk)