EU’s Mogherini takes a 12-minute call from pranksters posting as Armenian PM

A Russian duo described as pranksters have duped EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini into believing she was speaking to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Euronews reports.

The call that lasted about 12 minutes respectively, occurred in May shortly after Nikol Pashinyan was sworn in as Armenia’s new prime minister.

On the other end of the line, however, were Alexey Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetso known as Vovan and Lexus.

With Mogherini the pranksters talked about geopolitical pressure on Armenia from Russia as well as Turkey and Azerbaijan, to which top EU diplomat said Yerevan can count on EU support.

“You’re not living in an easy environment but you can count on us for sure for having a friend on which you can count. It’s true it’s a challenging region and again you’re facing different sorts of pressures and challenges but I’m sure that there could be a way to smooth the tensions and try to find cooperative approaches,” she said.

“Count on us anyway every time for discussing and finding a way forward and cooperating very, very closely.”

Mogherini also gave her full support, when Stolyarov said he was going to discuss the Nagorno Karabakh issue with Baku.

“If you manage to move with some positive steps for us it will be crucial because having an open issue like this between our two strategic partners — Armenia and Azerbaijan — that are both important for us is painful,” she said.

The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncher was also targeted by  the pranksters. In a 10-minute conversation, he discussed Trump, Russia, Iran nuclear deal, Armenian music and cuisine and even Kim Kardashian’s possible role in the Armenian Government.

Spokespeople for both Juncker and Mogherini did not question the authenticity of the tapes when contacted by Euronews.

Juncker’s spokesperson said: “The President loves Armenia. Whoever calls him, even on a European public holiday, he is happy to discuss its music and cuisine.”

A spokesperson for Mogherini said in a written statement: “We have regular contacts with Armenian authorities. HRVP Mogherini most recently met (the) PM of Armenia Pashinyan last week in the margins of NATO summit.”

“When it comes to how calls are arranged, we have clear procedures in place, and we are constantly improving them.”

Critics, mainly from the West, have long accused the two pranksters of having ties to the Kremlin due to their seemingly frequent ability to get leaders in Europe on the other end of the line, including former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

Stolyarov denies the claim.

“I support many things in foreign politics that [Putin’s] team did. With some things in our internal politics I disagree. But, anyway, he is elected Russian president,” Stolyarov told Euronews.

“We do our job without orders from the government. We do that as private persons and it’s not (the) position of Kremlin despite some government workers like it. Some people from opposition also like it.”

Stolyarov also points to how they have carried out similar stunts on Russia’s own government. “We pranked already our governors, some Russian ministers, deputies etc. It was earlier. Sometimes we make such calls, too. But geopolitics is more interesting.”

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