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Russian pranksters call Merkel posing as Ukraine’s ex-leader

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Russian pranksters posing as Ukraine’s former president Petro Poroshenko managed to contact Angela Merkel by phone to discuss developments in Ukraine and Belarus, although the former German chancellor was wary about the entire call, Mrs Merkel’s office has said.

Mrs Merkel’s office said the former German leader received a call on January 12th from someone claiming to be Mr Poroshenko.

The conversation was assisted by a German-Ukrainian interpreter from the German Foreign Ministry’s language service.

In an emailed statement, the office said Mrs Merkel informed the ministry afterwards about the “impression that she gained of the caller during the call”, but did not elaborate on what that was.

Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov, known as Vovan and Lexus, posted on their Telegram channel what they said were excerpts from the call.

The pair have previously embarrassed European politicians including French President Emmanuel Macron, Polish President Andrzej Duda and then-British prime minister Boris Johnson, as well as Sir Elton John and the Duke of Sussex, with similar hoax calls.

The recording features Mrs Merkel saying – as she has done publicly before – that the much-criticised Minsk peace agreement had bought precious time for Ukraine.

Mrs Merkel and former French president Francois Hollande had brokered the peace agreement with Mr Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2015.

She also criticises repression in autocratic Belarus.

Mr Poroshenko was Ukraine’s president from 2014 until 2019.

Mrs Merkel led Germany from 2005 until the end of 2021.

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