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By Tim Pearce
U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry discussed the “scientific development” of making fuel from alcohol and pig manure in a 22-minute phone call with who he believed to be Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman.
Two Russian pranksters, Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov, set up the call pretending to be Groysman, just weeks after Perry had a meeting with Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.
The fake phone conversation was sold to Perry as a follow up to the energy secretary’s meeting with Poroshenko, according to The Washington Post.
Perry also discussed Ukrainian natural gas development, a pipeline giving Ukraine access to Russian gas, and the U.S. leaving the Paris climate accord.
“I hope that stepping away from the Paris accord will not have any negative impact with our relationship with the Ukraine,” Perry said. “We tried to divorce the politics from this and really just let our record stand, one that I’m very proud of.”
Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes confirmed that the Russians successfully duped Perry.
“Secretary Perry is the latest target of two Russian pranksters,” Hynes told Bloomberg in an email. “These individuals are known for pranking high level officials and celebrities, particularly those who are supportive of an agenda that is not in line with their governments. In this case, the energy security of Ukraine.”
The prank call was posted on the Russian news site Vesti.