Two Russian pranksters reportedly posed as Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg and her dad during a phone call with vice presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris and offered her damaging information about President Trump.
Audio of the January phone call, which was obtained by The Sun, indicates that Harris had no idea that she was being duped by the two jokesters – Vladimir ‘Vovan’ Kuznetsov and Alexey ‘Lexus’ Stolyarov.
During the three-and-a-half-minute call, Harris, the California senator who just weeks earlier had dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination for president, is heard accepting the call from ‘Greta.’
‘Congratulations on all your leadership,’ Harris tells the pranksters.
Kamala Harris (left), the California senator and Democratic nominee for vice president, was pranked by two Russian hoaxers – Vladimir ‘Vovan’ Kuznetsov (seen left in the image on the right) and Alexei ‘Lexus’ Stolyarov (seen right next to Kuznetsov) – in January, according to a report
The two hoaxers posed as Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (left), 17, and her father, Svante Thunberg (right). The two are seen above in New York in August 2019
Transcript of Kamala Harris prank call by two Russians posing as Greta Thunberg and her father
STAFFER: Svante, I have you here with Senator Kamala Harris
‘GRETA’: Hi Kamala
KAMALA: Hello Greta, congratulations on all of your leadership. I am so inspired by your courage and your voice.
‘GRETA’: Umm, it would be cool to support you in your campaign. What is the best way to do it?
KAMALA: The best way to do it would be to talk about my climate plan.
You know what I can do is, I can ask my policy team to follow up with you with more detail on what exactly would be helpful and what is something you would like to do.
Then we can talk in more detail about how that can work and that would be very helpful, and I thank you for that.
‘GRETA’: We wrote to many politicians, but not many people respond. How sad it is.
‘SVANTE’: Recently, even President Putin said about you…
‘GRETA’: It wasn’t what I wanted.
KAMALA: Well it just highlights the need that we have to be active. There are forces working against our movement and we have to fight for these things. This is that moment, and you have been a great warrior in this cause.
‘GRETA’: I am so terrified of what Trump is doing, I even cannot eat or sleep when I see him on TV. That terrible meeting in the UN building in September, I have nightmares. I saw him in the corridor and shouted to him to sign the Paris climate agreement. He came over and he said softly to me “You will never achieve the goal”.’
KAMALA: No, but Greta…
‘GRETA’: …and he continued, he continued, he continued…
KAMALA: …do not be discouraged, you have the ability to see what is possible in a way that many do not and there will be people who are going to work against progress. That is always the case, always in history there have been people who work against progress. Listen, nothing that has been achieved in this world that has been about progress came without a fight. This is the nature of it.
‘GRETA’: But it is very sick to behave like that – I mean President Trump
KAMALA: Yes, it is similar to previous times in history when some people could not imagine how things can be different and then leaders did imagine and could see and lead. You have been a great leader, do not be deterred.
‘SVANTE’: Greta has a recorder always with her, and when it happened…
GRETA: In my pocket, yes.
‘SVANTE’: …it was on Greta’s recorder. If you would like to get it, we can provide it.
‘GRETA’: Maybe this recording can help you.
KAMALA: Thank you, that would be wonderful.
‘GRETA’: In my side, I can testify against this terrible man.
KAMALA: Yes definitely, thank you so much.
‘SVANTE’: Thank you so much.
KAMALA: I am sorry I have to hang up now, but Josh will follow up with you and we will stay in touch and work together. I look forward to working with you.
‘SVANTE’: We are in Canada now, but we will be in the US soon.
KAMALA: Oh good, we should make a plan then. I would like that.
‘SVANTE’: I hope that you will not arrest us…
KAMALA: …no, no, no…
‘GRETA’: …I don’t want to go to jail…
‘SVANTE’: ….like some people do.
KAMALA: I look forward to seeing you, be well, and I’ll talk to you soon. Bye, bye.
‘I’m so inspired by your courage and your voice.’
‘Greta’ then tells the senator: ‘Umm, it would be cool to support you in your campaign. What is the best way to do it?’
Harris replies: ‘The best way to do it would be to talk about my climate plan. You know what I can do is, I can ask my policy team to follow up with you with more detail on what exactly would be helpful and what is something you would like to do.
‘Then we can talk in more detail about how that can work and that would be very helpful, and I thank you for that.’
When ‘Greta’ and ‘her father’ tell Harris that they’ve written letters to ‘many politicians’ but that ‘not many people responded,’ the senator offered sympathy.
‘Well it just highlights the need that we have to be active,’ Harris says.
‘There are forces working against our movement and we have to fight for these things.
‘This is that moment, and you have been a great warrior in this cause.’
The pranksters then appear to try and use their ‘Greta’ persona to goad Harris into criticizing Trump.
‘I am so terrified of what Trump is doing, I even cannot eat or sleep when I see him on TV,’ Harris is told by ‘Greta.’
‘That terrible meeting in the UN building in September, I have nightmares.
In the prank call, the hoaxers claim to have an audio recording of Trump whispering discouraging comments into Thunberg’s ear during an encounter at the United Nations last year. Images of Thunberg’s facial exprssion as she watched Trump upstage her big entrance at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York last year went viral
‘I saw him in the corridor and shouted to him to sign the Paris climate agreement.
‘He came over and he said softly to me “you will never achieve the goal”.’
Last year, Thunberg was photographed staring down President Trump as he spoke to reporters at the United Nations, which held a climate summit on that same day.
Trump has been quoted as saying that climate change is a ‘hoax.’ One of his first acts as president was to remove the United States from the Paris climate agreement, which aims to reduce the global carbon footprint.
During the prank call with Harris, ‘Greta’ recalled the negative experience with Trump, prompting the senator to offer encouragement.
‘Do not be discouraged, you have the ability to see what is possible in a way that many do not and there will be people who are going to work against progress,’ Harris said.
‘That is always the case, always in history there have been people who work against progress.
‘Listen, nothing that has been achieved in this world that has been about progress came without a fight.
‘This is the nature of it.’
‘Greta’ then replies: ‘But it is very sick to behave like that – I mean President Trump…’
To which Harris replies: ‘Yes, it is similar to previous times in history when some people could not imagine how things can be different and then leaders did imagine and could see and lead.
‘You have been a great leader, do not be deterred.’
Then, ‘Greta’s father’ tells Harris that his ‘daughter’ used a hidden recorder to grab audio of Trump whispering in her ear.
‘If you would like to get it, we can provide it,’ ‘Svante’ tells Harris.
In January, Representative Maxine Waters (left) was duped into thinking she was speaking with Thunberg (left)
‘Greta’ then chimes in, saying: ‘Maybe this recording can help you.’
To which Harris replies: ‘Thank you, that would be wonderful.’
‘Greta’ then tells Harris: ‘In my side, I can testify against this terrible man.’
‘Yes definitely, thank you so much,’ Harris replied.
The senator then tells ‘Greta’ and ‘Svante’ that she needed to hang up and that one of her aides would follow up with them.
This is at least the second time this year that the two Russian pranksters have pulled a fast one on a Democrat from California.
In January, at around the same time as their prank call with Harris, Vovan and Lexus pulled the same stunt on House Rep. Maxine Waters.
The House Financial Services Committee chairwoman is heard responding in shock as the supposed Swedish teenager recounts a fictional story about bumping into Trump at the UN Summit in New York.
‘You’ll never achieve your goals like those congressional fools who accuse me,’ Vovan says in the voice of Thunberg emulating Trump.
‘I’ll tell you the truth: I really wanted to push the Ukraine president to put my competitor on trial. And he will go to trial with you, with [a bunch of] Democrats. . . . I would have a separate cage for all of you.’
It prompts Waters to probe: ‘Oh my god, he mentioned the Ukrainian president?’
A prankster claiming to be the teenager’s father even claims they have an audio recording they could share with the congresswoman.
The hoax call includes Waters responding: ‘If the public knew he talked to Greta like that, and that she will never achieve – that will go against him, too.’
It’s unclear when the phone call took place.
The Russian duo say in a caption for the animated video posted Thursday that it’s part of a ‘project dedicated to global problems of modern society’.
‘Vovan and Lexus discuss them with celebrities and politicians in order to find a solution together and save our planet,’ the description reads, adding that in this episode they ‘discuss the topic of harassment’.
Earlier this year, the two Russian pranksters ‘tricked’ Prince Harry into believing they were climate change activist Greta Thunberg and her father Svante
Kuznetsov, 30, and Stolyarov called Prince Harry twice on a landline at his home on Vancouver Island. The pair then allegedly animated the conversation and posted it on YouTube
During the call, Prince Harry revealed his thoughts about Megxit. He and his wife, Meghan, are pictured in London in March
Waters played down the wind-up which included the suggestion of a climate strike in support of the Chon-go-Chango island and began with a joke about Waters’ nickname ‘Auntie Maxine’.
The call was dubbed likely to undermine US security.
‘This was just another stupid prank by the same Russian operatives who have targeted many U.S. elected officials, including Rep. Adam B. Schiff, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, Sen. Mitch McConnell, and late-Senator John McCain, and international heads of state such as Emmanuel Macron. The end,’ Waters told The Washington Post.
The duo has denied they are agents of the Kremlin after past pranks went viral. In 2016 they told the Guardian they work for themselves, ‘nobody else’.
In February 2018, it was revealed that the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, was the victim of a prank phone call by the Russian comedians who offered to give him ‘compromising’ dirt on Trump – including nude photos of the president and a Russian reality show star.
On an audio recording of the prank call posted online, Adam Schiff can be heard discussing the committee’s Russia investigation and increasingly bizarre allegations about Trump with a man who claimed to be Andriy Parubiy, the chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament.
After the prank from a year before it was reported, his staff engaged in correspondence with what they thought was a Ukrainian politician to try to obtain the ‘classified’ material promised on the call.
In May 2018, then –Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson spent 18 minutes on a phone call with the pranksters pretending to be the Armenian Prime Minister.
Conservative Johnson sounded particularly startled when the pranksters claimed Vladimir Putin had revealed he was influencing Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn.
In August 2019, Lindsey Graham fell victim to the Russian pranksters pretending to be the Turkish defense minister.
Graham told the notorious cold callers in the call shared October that the Kurds are a ‘threat’ – contradicting his public statements that week condemning Trump.
Earlier this year, the pranksters managed to trick Prince Harry into thinking he was conversing with Thunberg.
During the prank call, the royal revealed his inner most thoughts about the decision by him and his wife, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, to quit royal duties and move to North America.