The head of the Federal Reserve System (FRS) of the United States, Jerome Powell, fell for the prank of pro-Kremlin pranksters Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov, also known as Vovan and Lexus. A video of a dialogue with an American official was published on RuTube , the Russians spoke with the head of the Fed on behalf of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Bloomberg notes that Powell apparently really believed that he was communicating with the Ukrainian leader. From the published video lasting about 15 minutes, it follows that the head of the Fed discussed inflation, sanctions with the pranksters, and even praised his colleague, the head of the Central Bank of Russia, Elvira Nabiullina.
“We all know the head of the Central Bank of Russia. She is pretty good at her job. She is an unusually capable specialist, very knowledgeable and smart, ”the head of the Fed shared his opinion about Nabiullina.
At the same time, he expressed confidence that the head of the Central Bank will try to help Russia reduce the pressure from restrictions. Powell described the sanctions themselves as insufficient, since Russia still manages to circumvent them so far.
In a commentary for Bloomberg, the Fed acknowledged that back in January, Powell had a conversation with someone who posed as the president of Ukraine, but was assured that the head of the regulator did not disclose any secret information.
“It was a friendly conversation, and it took place in the context of our position in support of the Ukrainian people in this difficult time. No classified or confidential information was discussed, ”the Fed said in an official statement.
The representative of the department also noted that there is an editing on the video, therefore, he cannot confirm the accuracy of the published wording. The press service also noted that the fact of dialing Powell by Russian pranksters is currently being studied by law enforcement agencies, so there will be no further comments on this incident yet. The agency says that the very fact of dialing such a high-profile American official raises questions about the security of information within the regulator.
Prior to this, Vovan and Lexus managed to get through to the head of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, in a conversation with her, the pranksters also pretended to be Vladimir Zelensky.
“The President agreed in good faith to this conversation to demonstrate her support for Ukraine and its people defending themselves from Russia’s aggressive war,” an ECB spokesman told the agency.
Russian pranksters Vovan and Lexus are supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2018, after a prank against Boris Johnson, at that time only the head of the British Foreign Office, the British authorities announced that the pranksters acted on the orders of the Kremlin. The victims of the pranksters were also former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Polish President Andrzej Duda. Each prank receives wide coverage in the Russian state media, which may indicate a unified coordination of the Kremlin's media policy aimed at discrediting Western countries.
For the FRS, this incident was the second in the past six months when the local security service was unable to prevent penetration into internal information systems. In March, during a virtual meeting with Fed Board member Christopher Waller, an unidentified person disrupted an online conference by broadcasting live porn of the meeting.