Berlin/Kyiv/Moscow (dpa) – Seven weeks after the fake video call with the fake Vitali Klitschko, Berlin’s governing mayor Franziska Giffey spoke to the real Kiev mayor. The SPD politician announced this on Thursday evening on Twitter.
Accordingly, the video switch was about the situation in Ukraine and in Kyiv in view of the Russian war of aggression. Other topics included the energy supply and the situation of Ukrainian refugees in Germany. The dangers of propaganda and fake video calls were also discussed.
On June 24, Giffey had video chatted with a person who looked like Klitschko but wasn’t Klitschko. A few days later, the Russian satirists “Vovan and Lexus” confessed to the ARD magazine “Contrasts” that they were behind the fake call. On Thursday, the duo released alleged excerpts from the conversation.
According to Senate spokeswoman Lisa Frerichs, Giffey was now connected to the real Klitschko for around an hour. Both exchanged accordingly in German, Klitschko speaks the language very well. In a short video sequence that Giffey tweeted, she says with a laugh at the beginning of the conversation: “Well, I hope, dear Vitali Klitschko, that this time I’m talking to the real one.” He first answers jokingly that he doesn’t know, but then adds: “I think I’m the real one. I think so.” Giffey replies: “So you also talk to the real one.”
“Vovan and Lexus” had just published a nine-minute and obviously edited sequence on Internet platforms such as the Russian YouTube copy Rutube and Reddit, which is supposed to show excerpts from the conversation with the wrong Klitschko in June. You can only see Giffey, who responds to questions from the alleged Klitschko, who speaks Russian and not Ukrainian or German. Your interlocutor cannot be seen, so the video does not provide any clues as to which digital manipulation technique was used to create the fake Klitschko.
“As far as we can see, the excerpts are real,” said Senate spokeswoman Frerichs about the sequences. The publication, which was first reported by the “Spiegel”, was “noted”.
The Senate Chancellery made the fake phone call, of which there is no official recording, public on the same day. According to Giffey, after a while, various questions from her counterpart had given her doubts as to whether she was connected to the real Klitschko. The conversation then ended prematurely. In the meantime it has become known that the mayors of Vienna, Madrid, Budapest and Warsaw have also been included in a similar way.
The voice of the supposed Klitschko, which is known to many people in Germany, does not sound like the original in the video sequences now posted by the comedians. Among other things, Giffey provides information about the admission of Ukrainian war refugees.
There is no evidence for the Russian comedians’ claim on Reddit that Giffey confirmed that there were “serious problems with the arriving refugees”. Frerichs denied that Giffey said anything like that in the video call. Also striking: subtitles for the published excerpts do not always correctly reflect Giffey’s statements in the conversation.
The published excerpts from the conversation also deal with the fake Klitschko’s request that Berlin support the organization of a kind of Christopher Street Day in Kyiv. Giffey said Berlin is Europe’s rainbow capital and can definitely offer advice here. Shortly after the fake phone call, she explained that this topic had made her suspicious. “In view of the war, that was more than strange,” she said at the time. The connection was then terminated or broken off.
Alexei Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov aka “Vovan and Lexus” have been known in Russia for years for making fake calls to politicians and other international celebrities. Some time ago, according to ARD information, they admitted in a “Contrasts” interview to work for an Internet platform that belongs to the Russian state-owned company Gazprom.
© dpa-infocom, dpa:220811-99-356088/3