When Poland’s president spoke about a missile explosion in a Polish village to someone he thought was his French counterpart, he was in fact talking to a Russian prankster.
President Andrzej Duda’s office on Tuesday confirmed last week’s exchange after audio claimed by two Russian pranksters was circulated online.
The pair have a history of fooling high-profile people and are believed to have links to Russia’s security services.
“Following the missile explosion in Przewodow, during continuous calls with heads of state and government, there was a call with a person claiming to be French President Emmanuel Macron,” Duda’s office tweeted.
“Duda realised from the way the conversation was being conducted by the caller that it may have been an attempt at a scam and he got off the phone.”
Asked by AFP whether they were behind the call, Russian pranksters “Vovan and Lexus” confirmed, “We’ve said that on all social media… And we posted a video.”
In the November 15 hoax call, a person with a thick Russian accent claims to be Macron. He and Duda discuss the fatal missile blast near the Ukrainian border from earlier in the day.
The explosion is now widely believed to have been caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile, though initial speculation pointed the finger at Russia.
“Oh hello Emmanuel… Thank you for your call. The situation is very difficult as you probably know,” Duda said.
He said the explosion was caused by a missile “launched we don’t know by whom” and that he was waiting for the results of the investigation.
“Emmanuel, believe me, I am extra careful. I don’t blame Russian(s)… I don’t want to have war with Russia,” he added.
Duda also said Poland was not considering invoking Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty, which requires member states to come to each other’s aid in case of an attack on one.
The Polish president was also asked about Russian speculation that Ukraine was preparing to use dirty bombs.
“I’m more afraid by some problems with nuclear power plants in Ukraine… I am more afraid about the nuclear catastrophe,” he answered.
The pranksters posted the call, lasting seven and a half minutes, to their page on Russia’s Rutube video platform, its YouTube equivalent.
Previous victims of the duo, real names Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov, include Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pop star Elton John and Prince Harry.
Duda also fell for their impersonation of UN chief Antonio Guterres in 2020.