MOSCOW (AP) – Russian jokes claim they have named US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders climate activist Greta Thunberg and offered Thunberg support for his campaign.
Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexey Stolyarov, who fooled many high-profile victims around the world, released a recording of the phone call on YouTube on Thursday.
The call itself took place in early December, but the duo decided to release it more than two months later because Sanders was successful in Iowa and New Hampshire, Kuznetsov said in a Skype interview to The Associated Press.
A representative of the campaign did not comment on the authenticity of the call on Friday.
Federal law enforcement officials were alerted in November that several Democrats had received calls from someone believed to be outside the United States, who claimed to represent the youthful Thunberg, and tried to make calls or face-to-face meetings with members of Congress , a US official, said The Associated Press. Some of the congress offices reported the incidents to the FBI and the Capitol Police, the official said. The person was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
In the recording, a nameless woman pretends to be Greta, and Stolyarov plays her father Svante. They offer to support the campaign of a man who identifies himself as Sanders and the man greets them.
78-year-old Sanders suggests that “Greta” make a statement to support him and that they will host an event the next time she comes to the United States. “I would be very grateful,” he says.
“Greta” then suggests to record a rap song in support of Sanders with “Singer Billie Eilish and Rapper Kanye West”.
Sanders says this is “great” and tries to end the conversation, but the duo says “Greta” is about to visit Russia and needs advice on how to behave there.
The Vermont Senator urges them to be careful not to be used for PR purposes. “I think you just don’t want to go in and get used to it,” he says.
“Russia and (President Vladimir) Putin, as far as I know, judged climate change very badly. They have a lot of oil, oil is important for their economy, they make a lot of money with oil, ”explains Sanders.
Then “Greta” tells Sanders that he was recruited by the KGB in 1988 when he visited Russia and has been a “sleeping agent” ever since.
“Now is the time to wake up and fulfill your mission to become President of the United States, build Communism in the United States, and work for Russia!” she says, whereupon Sanders seems to hang up.
Kuznetsov told the AP that the call was one of many in the comedy duo’s new project called “Stars Save the Earth,” in which they name senior politicians and celebrities pretending to be Thunberg.
“Many laugh at Bernie Sanders (and say) that he is a KGB agent and wants to build communism in the United States. Since he describes himself as a democratic socialist, we decided to take up this issue – the issue that Sanders is a recruited Russian agent. Said Kuznetsov.
Stolyarov added that Thunberg’s name “opens the doors to everyone.” “Everyone, from the president to the street cleaner, is ready to speak to Greta Thunberg,” he told the AP in a Skype interview.
Stolyarov insisted that the jokes did not affect the presidential race in the US in any way. Over the past few years, the two have been accused of having ties to the Kremlin – an idea they have repeatedly denied.
Kuznetsov said they expected no effects on the prank. “It is not illegal and we are known in the United States,” he said.
Associate press writer Michael Balsamo from Washington contributed to this report.