Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is the latest official to be targeted in a Russian pranking scheme that has pestered Western leaders for years, as the pranksters posed as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, reports said Thursday.
The call was held in January between the chairman and two Russian comedians known as Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov, who have been dubbed Vovan and Lexus, according to a Bloomberg report which sited Russian state television.
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Footage of the call was released on Russian state television in a series of clips that lasted roughly 15 minutes, reportedly showed Powell discussing issues ranging from inflation to Russia’s banking system with a man he thought was Zelenskyy.
“Chair Powell participated in a conversation in January with someone who misrepresented himself as the Ukrainian president,” a Federal Reserve spokesperson told Fox News Digital Thursday. “It was a friendly conversation and took place in a context of our standing in support of the Ukrainian people in this challenging time.”
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It remains unclear how or when Powell figured out he was not actually speaking with Zelenskyy, though a spokesperson said that “no sensitive or confidential information was discussed.”
The spokesperson, who said the footage appears to have been edited, also noted that the issue had been handed over to “appropriate law enforcement” and that “out of respect for their efforts, we won’t be commenting further.”
The revelation of Powell’s prank call comes just weeks after it was made known that former French President François Hollande was also targeted by Vovan and Lexus in a roughly 15-minute February call when they posed as former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, reported Euro News earlier this month.
However, these phony calls are nothing new.
The Russia duo have staged false calls for years with major Western leaders posing as various officials, including with former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Polish President Andrzej Duda – who was not only targeted in November 2022 by the pair posing as French President Emmanuel Macron, but also in 2020 when they pretended to be U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.