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Pranksters trick Canadian lawmakers with fake Navalny aide: report

Pranksters trick Canadian lawmakers with fake Navalny aide: report
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Russian pranksters impersonating opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s chief of staff successfully convinced the Canadian House of Commons foreign affairs committee that they were the real thing, according to a Tuesday report.

Vice News reported that Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov posed as Leonid Volkov during an April 22 virtual meeting with the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development to discuss Navalny's predicament.

The meeting, which was conducted "in camera," was not broadcast at the time and members were prohibited from speaking about the details of it once they left the committee room. During the meeting, the Canadian officials called on a person described as "witness 1," who was supposed to be Volkov but was played by Kuznetsov and Stolyarov instead, according to Vice.

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Meeting minutes obtained by the outlet revealed that the ruse went on for nearly 25 minutes.

Kuznetsov and Stolyarov confirmed with the outlet that they had impersonated Volkov and provided screenshots from the meeting. They did not specify why they chose to prank the Canadian officials but said that the video will be available on their YouTube channel.

“I would not like to comment on this in detail before publishing the prank,” Kuznetsov told the outlet in an email. “In general, we wanted to make ... video pranks with the largest number of deputies around the world. Because now video meetings are very popular.”

Canada's House of Commons foreign affairs committee is reportedly set to have a meeting with the real Volkov this week, but declined to share with Vice any details from the April incident.

Kuznetsov denied that the prank had any connection to Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinBlinken, Lavrov to meet next week Former Russian mayor who encouraged pro-Navalny protests is jailed China's emissions now eclipse the developed world — preventing climate protection MORE, of whom Navalny has been sharply critical, telling the outlet that it was “just for fun.”

The pair of Russian pranksters have posed as Western politicians in the past, and last year they convinced Canadian Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauBiden to record video message for 'Vax Live' concert Pranksters trick Canadian lawmakers with fake Navalny aide: report Trudeau voices 'tremendous confidence' in AstraZeneca vaccine after first Canadian death linked to shot MORE’s office that they were teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, Vice reported.

Navalny, who survived an attempted poisoning last year, recently ended a hunger strike protesting his ongoing detention in Russia over what he calls trumped-up charges.