April 13, 2024

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Video clip of hoax call with UK minister Ben Wallace published

Two well-known Russian hoaxers have made a video of a phone conversation they had with the UK defence secretary public.

Ben Wallace may be heard chatting to a man in a video conversation while Mr Wallace was in Poland on Friday, according to a tape uploaded online. Last week, he disclosed the deception, saying he was targeted by an “imposter” acting as Ukraine’s prime minister.

The UK government has accused Russia of making bogus calls to British ministers about the Ukraine war.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, said she received a bogus phone last week, and No 10 said Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries was also targeted.

Vladimir “Vovan” Kuznetsov and Alexei “Lexus” Stolyarov recorded the video call to Mr Wallace and put it online.

In the past, the duo has attacked several politicians and prominent people. They were blamed for a fake phone call to then-foreign secretary Boris Johnson in 2018, in which a caller pretended to be Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan.

Russian television has already shown tapes of their supposed discussions.

Mr Wallace, who is seen in a car and is asked questions regarding a purported nuclear weapons programme for Ukraine, is featured in the published tape, which lasts around a minute.

Mr Wallace was reportedly connected to a Microsoft Teams video chat that lasted about ten minutes.

After an email supposedly from a Ukrainian embassy aide in London was submitted to a UK government department and then sent to the Ministry of Defence, the video conversation was set up.

The government is conducting a cross-departmental investigation into how the call occurred.

When asked if the defences against hoax calls were robust enough, a spokeswoman at No 10 said there was guidance on how to handle such calls.

The Russian team also claimed to have conducted interviews with politicians such as Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and US Senator John McCain.