Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, was pranked by two Russian comedians who engaged her in an 11-minute telephone call that included discussion of Hillary Clinton’s health, the diabolical hacking of television stations so that screens would inexplicably flip to Vladimir Putin and – oh yes, almost forgot – the fate of the very fictitious African land of Limpopo.
Limpopo is a province in South Africa, but the context of the discussion made it clear the comedy team was referring to a fictitious country from a Russian children’s book.
Waters fell for the skits, on all counts. And it didn’t take long for the YouTube version of the discussion to make media waves.
The two tricksters are named Vladimir Krasnov and Aleksey Stolyarov, better known online as Vovan and Lexus. They placed the call to Waters at her congressional offices while posing as the prime minister of Ukraine. And post-patch-through, the fun began.
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Waters, following a sunny greeting that included both surprise and pleasure at chatting with whom she thought was Volodimir Groysman, first discussed the fate of U.S. sanctions on Russia.
“Yeah, [Trump] wants to remove the sanctions, that’s what he said during the campaign,” Waters said. “Recently I heard he said, ‘well, we’d have to review the sanctions to see what should be done with them. … So I don’t know what he’s doing.”
Listen to the prank phone call:
Discussions then turned to Clinton and her mental state, post-election.
“She’s doing fine,” Waters, said. “She has started to come out a little. I think she’s had one or two speeches and she has been tweeting a bit on her telephone, so she’s coming back. … Of course, [she’ll be] worried about [election loss] for the rest of her life … it won’t be easy to forget. It’ll always be there as one of the most unusual occurrences of her lifetime.”
Waters then agreed Clinton “was a hero.”
Talk turned to Vladimir “Putin’s regular army” occupation of both eastern and western points in Ukraine, with Waters expressing surprise and doubling down on her promise to push fellow legislators to keep intact sanctions. And then the trio spoke of Russia’s hacking of the nation of Limpopo’s election system.
Waters, apparently not realizing Limpopo is a made-up nation: “Were they able to control who got elected?”
The pranksters’ reply: “Yes … they did more damage for them than for the U.S.”
Waters: “Oh … who is responsible for being in charge of the hacking of the election system that caused them to win?”
The comedians said the hackers were “Putin aides,” with names only known on the Internet as Vovan and Lexus – the first name for which Waters spent considerable time trying to clarify its proper spelling.
“They’re Internet names so we didn’t recognize their real names, so it’s like insider information,” the comedians said.
The comedy team sold Waters on the fact the president of Limpopo is planning to move to Ukraine because he’s afraid Putin’s team is plotting to murder him.
Waters: “He’s afraid they may kill him?”
Comedians’ reply: “Yeah, he worry about it.”
The conversations wrapped with Waters saying the “United States is going to stand with you guys” and “If I could get to London any time soon, maybe you could meet me.”
And then one final discussion: The comedians told Waters how Ukraine’s president had been plagued by an issue with his television set – an apparent hacking situation – in which it suddenly turned to RT’s station and a broadcast of Putin.
“It happened to me too,” she said. “I was on the floor talking and I got blacked out and Russia Today came on with an ad for ten minutes.”