Russian pranksters posing as Thunberg claim Sanders welcomed her support

Russian pranksters pretending to be teenage climate activist Greta ThunbergGreta ThunbergEnergy & Environment — The biggest climate news of 2021 Overnight Energy & Environment — Analysts predict rising gas prices Greta Thunberg says it's 'strange' Biden is considered a leader on climate change MORE claimed they called Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money — No SALT, and maybe no deal Menendez goes after Sanders over SALT comments It's time for the Senate to vote: Americans have a right to know where their senators stand MORE (I-Vt.) and offered support for his White House bid, which they say he welcomed.

In a video posted to YouTube this week, Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexey Stolyarov recorded a phone call that appears to depict the voice of the Democratic presidential hopeful.

Kuznetsov told The Associated Press that they released the audio of the supposed December phone after Sanders had success in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to hold voting in the presidential nominating race.

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Sanders's campaign has not confirmed the authenticity of the call. The Hill has reached out to the campaign for comment.

The nearly 12-minute phone call includes an unnamed female pretending to be Thunberg, while Stolyarov plays the Swedish teenager’s father.

A man is heard identifying himself as Sanders and thanks them for their show of support. He also suggests that “Greta” make a statement supporting his presidential bid and offers to host an event together the next time she is in the United States.

“I would be really appreciative,” the man says.

The voice pretending to be Thunberg then tells the senator that she wants to have singer Billie Eilish and rapper Kanye WestKanye Omari WestYe allegedly punches autograph-seeking fan Ye to meet with Putin in Russia, associate says Kim Kardashian says she's 'a mix of both' parties MORE write a rap song supporting Sanders.

He tells her that would be “terrific” and tries to end the phone call before the fake father-daughter duo say Thunberg is about to visit Russia, asking the U.S. senator for advice.

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“I think what you don’t want to do is simply walk in there and get used,” the person depicted as Sanders says, noting that she should be careful not to be used in a public relations stunt.

“Russia and (President Vladimir) Putin has been very bad, as far as I know, on climate change. They have a lot of oil, oil is important for their economy, they make a lot of money on oil,” he added.

The voice pretending to be Thunberg tells Sanders that he was recruited by the KGB while visiting Russia in 1988.

“You were programed to work for Russia and your memory was erased so the CIA wouldn’t track you down,” the fake Thunberg said.

“Is this what you believe?” Sanders replied.

“Yes, you become a sleeper agent of the KGB,” the fake Thunberg said. “Now it’s time to wake up and fulfill your mission, become president of the United States, build communism in the United States and work for Russia. I’ll tell you the code phrase and you will remember.”

The person depicted as Sanders then appears to hang up.

Kuznetsov told the AP that the prank call is part of their new project called “Stars Save the Earth,” in which they pretend to be Thunberg while talking to politicians and celebrities.

“Many laugh at Bernie Sanders (and say) that he is a KGB agent and wants to build communism in the U.S. Since he calls himself a democratic socialist, we decided to play up this topic — the topic of Sanders being a recruited Russian agent,” Kuznetsov said.

He added that using the name of the teenager “opens doors to everyone.”

“Everyone, from presidents to street cleaners, are ready to talk to Greta Thunberg,” Kuznetsov told the AP.

A U.S. official told the outlet that federal law enforcement was alerted in November that several Democrats had received calls from someone believed to be outside the country claiming to be Thunberg, asking to set up calls or in-person meetings.

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Some of the congressional offices reported the incidents to the FBI and the Capitol Police, the official said.

In October, Thunberg tweeted an apology to people who have contacted by people falsely impersonating her or claiming to represent her.

“It has come to my attention that a few people have been trying to impersonate me or falsely claim that they 'represent' me in order to communicate with political leaders, famous actors, singers and musicians. I apologize to anyone who’s been contacted - and maybe even misled by this kind of behavior,” Thunberg tweeted.

“I hope that those who want to sincerely reach out to me will do so using the recognized channels. The good news in all of this is that this just means we're having impact. Activism works. And see you in the streets!” Thunberg continued.