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Latest Victim of Russian Pranksters: Maxine Waters

Democratic congresswoman thought she was talking to Greta Thunberg
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2020 7:55 AM CST

(Newser) – They've gotten Rick Perry, Elton John, Lindsey Graham, and Maxine Waters, among others, and now, Maxine Waters again. "They" being Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexey Stolyarov, aka Russian rogues Vovan and Lexus, who've placed prank calls to high-profile names worldwide. This time, they fooled the Democratic congresswoman into thinking she was chatting with climate change activist Greta Thunberg, per the Guardian. In the 10-minute call, placed at an unspecified time and released on YouTube on Thursday, Waters praises a female impersonating Thunberg for making a "big, big, big thunder," then appears startled when the pranksters tell her about an invented talk "Greta" had with President Trump in which he made her cry by saying he wanted to ask the Ukrainian president to help him put "my competitor" on trial and in a cage, along with Democrats and Thunberg herself.

"Oh, my God, he mentioned the Ukrainian president?" Waters says on the call. "[I]f the public knew that he talked to Greta like that ... this will go against him, too." While many people get a good laugh out of the pranks that Vovan and Lexus pull off, it's suspected they have ties to Russian security forces involved in a Russian misinformation campaign against the US. "Putin's interests are served when US leaders are made to look foolish in the eyes of the world," a University of Pennsylvania professor who's written about Russian hackers and trolls tells the Washington Post. The men deny those claims. Whether they're free agents or not, Waters wasn't pleased she'd been had. "This was just another stupid prank by the same Russian operatives who have targeted many US elected officials ... and international heads of state such as Emmanuel Macron. The end," she said in a statement to the Post. (Read more prank call stories.)

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