FILE PHOTO: European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson and German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (not pictured) address a joint news conference at the Interior Ministry in Berlin, Germany, January 14, 2022. Tobias Schwarz/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

It is quite possible that she will not be the last victim of the Russian comedy duo of Vladimir “Vovan” Krasnov and Alexey “Lexus” Stolyarov, whose case comes to light: The Swedish EU Interior Commissioner Ylva Johansson – like other politicians: inside also – held a video call with a man she believed to be Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko.

This is reported by the “Tagessschau” with reference to information from the magazine “Kontraste”.

The ploy behind the deception is to impersonate Vitali Klitschko and talk to Western politicians about Ukrainian refugees, among other things, apparently hoping for a scandalous response.

Excerpts from the conversation with Ylva Johansson were published on the Krasnov and Stolyarov channel on a Russian video portal. It is not yet known when the recording took place.

According to “Tagesschau”, Johansson spoke to the false Klitschko, among other things, about her concern that women and children could become victims of human trafficking and exploitation while fleeing.

She was asked by the fake Klitschko whether Ukrainian refugees would cause many problems in Europe. But there was no scandalous answer.

The comedy duo is obviously acting in line with Russian propaganda. A spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry praised the two comedians as “masters of telephone diplomacy”. However, Alexey Stolyarov denied having any political motivation to Contrasts.

Krasnov and Stolyarov have been in the business as pranksters for more than a decade. Krasnov started pranking phones in 2007, and his colleague joined a few years later. Among the prominent victims of the two are Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and musician Elton John.

Since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, there has been a pro-Kremlin tendency in the comedians’ pranks. Ukrainian politicians have been tricked more and more often. Krasnov and Stolyarov imitated different people throughout their careers. They also used software for the transformation, but according to their own statements no deepfakes, i.e. manipulations by artificial intelligence.

On June 24, Berlin’s Mayor Franziska Giffey called a man who looked like Vitali Klitschko on the screen. A little later, Senate spokeswoman Lisa Frerichs said that Giffey and her team “apparently” fell for a “deep fake”. As it has now turned out, the number wasn’t quite as elaborate.

Nevertheless, the work of the Russian comedy duo, which – quite analogously – should consist of persuasion, make-up and costumes, was obviously very successful in terms of deception: In addition to Giffey and Ylva Johansson, the British Home Secretary and the city leaders also belong to the victims known so far from Budapest, Madrid, Vienna and Warsaw.