This story is from almost two weeks ago. I apologize for not getting to it before, but I had too many things lined up in the queue, including my highly popular “Griboedov” series.
Which garnered a mass audience, hell yeah, it did.
Anyhow, I’ll start at the beginning, for those not familiar with this madcap pair:
There is a duo of Russian professional pranksters, who call themselves “Vovan and Leksus”. Their real names are Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov.
Their shtick is that they phone gullible people, including celebrities and world leaders. They impersonate other people and get the “marks” to say something stupid or inflammatory.
One notices a pattern in these pranksters: They are politically engaged individuals. They tend to support Russian foreign policy and the Russian government. Their pranks are usually directed against Russia’s enemies, or against people who have offended Russia in some way. I guess you could call them “patriotic pranksters” !
So, this time around, the pranksters phoned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, against whom Russia is currently at war (well, proxy war), in Syria.
According to Kuznetsov: “We spoke with Erdoğan pretending to be Poroshenko and Yatsenuk. I played Poroshenko, and Lyosha played Yatsenuk. Currently we are not able to divulge the contents of our conversation, since we have contractual obligations with one of the TV channels.”
They were able to disclose only this much, as a teaser:
- That Erdoğan expressed an interest in joining an anti-Russian coalition headed by Ukraine.
- Faux-“Poroshenko” inquired of Erdoğan, if he had any plans to apologize to Russia for shooting down its SU-24.
The video accompaying the VZGLIAD piece is a promo and shows just a few soundbites from the conversation. Erdoğan communicates with the assistance of a Turkish-Russian interpreter. The video ends with a teaser: Will or will not Erdoğan apologize to Russia for shooting down the plane?
The following day NTV published the complete version of the conversation (around 13 minutes long) and a slightly longer (but not complete) transcript of the conversation.
During the first couple of minutes of the video, the pranksters establish their “bona fides”, engage in conversation with President Erdoğan and his interpreter, and exchange pleasanatries.
Then, for a couple of minutes, Erdoğan and the pranksters discuss the pitiable state of Crimean Tatars and how they are being oppressed by the Russian “occupiers”.
Around 8:00 minutes in, the conversation returns to the Crimean Tatars. Erdoğan expresses his gratitude for the Ukrainian government’s support of the Tatar Mejlis organization, and its economic blockade of the Crimean peninsula. Faux-Poroshenko asks the Turkish President if he is prepared to support the Mejlis movement via naval blockade. Erdoğan slightly deflects this question by saying it must be discussed among the Foreign Ministers of their respective nations.
The NTV transcript only covers the soundbite “highlights” of the video, but here is my translation into English:
Faux-Poroshenko: We would like to discuss the possibility of coordinating our actions against Russia; and our question to you is, are you willing to take part in this?
Erdoğan: Yes, with enthusiasm. There should not be even the slightest doubt about that.
Faux-Poroshenko: As a political gesture, we are prepared to reward your pilot, who shot down the (Russian) plane which incurred into your airspace. Because the sovereignty and defense of national borders is the most important principle for us. This will be a very important political step in bringing our governments together. [This corresponds to around 9:50 minutes into the video.]
Erdoğan: I don’t think that is necessary.
(….) [ switching topics to tourism – this corresponds to around 5:30 minutes in the video]:
Faux-Yatsenuk: Our tourism agency is prepared to work out with your analogous ministry the possibility of special tariffs for Ukrainians and especially for Ukrainian government officials, so that they can get accessible trips to Turkey.
Erdoğan: I want to thank you for this idea. I will phone my Tourism Ministry. In my opinion, this is quite doable. I don’t see any reason why we cannot collaborate with Ukraine in this matter.
(….) [and now the answer to the teaser, this occurs around 9:40 minutes into the video]:
Faux-Poroshenko: We very much hope that you are NOT planning to apologize to the President of Russia?
Erdoğan: Under no circumstances. Under no circumstances do we plan to apologize.
According to the rules of the genre, the pranksters end their calls with a “REALLY?” moment – this is meant to give the mark the clue that he has been punked. In keeping with this tradition, the Erdoğan call ends, around 12:00 minutes in, with Faux-Poroshenko inviting Real-Erdoğan to visit Ukraine; and bragging about his wife’s ability to cook up a great Ukrainian “horilka” moonshine; and how the two Presidents can enjoy it together while taking a Turkish sauna bath. To which the Turkish President dimly chuckles and replies: “We’ll see how it goes.” Faux-Poroshenko then takes the nonsense a step further, by making an offer no real man can refuse: “I have this wonderful bathhouse companion, his name is Lyashko, he is the leader of the Radical Party. He wants to join us in the bathhouse and help us get all steamed up.”
[yalensis: Lyashko is notorious among Russians and Ukrainians for his alleged inclinations as the passive partner in acts of homosexual sodomy.]
The interpreter soldiers on, translating this B.S. into Turkish.
At this point a somewhat flustered Erdoğan quickly ends the conversation.