Comedians tricked politicians around. The Danes thought they were talking to Belarusian opposition politicians.


MOSCOW (Aftenposten): – The situation gives cause for reflection, says the leader of the Danish Foreign Affairs Committee, Martin Lidegaard.

Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stoljarov, better known as “Vovan” and “Lexus”, shocked Danish politicians last week. Photo: Sergej Karpukin, Reuters / NTB

It was a scene many can recognize themselves in during the corona pandemic: A digital encounter in which one of the participants does not make the camera work.

In this way, it was possible that two Russian comedians tricked Danish foreign politicians around. Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov are a well-known radar couple on the Russian comedy scene. They are notorious for fooling around with most things.

Last week, the trip had come to the Danish Foreign Affairs Committee. The comedians pretended the camera was not working. Then they pretended to be a Frank Vetsjorka and Svetlana Tikhanovskaja.

The latter is the leader of the opposition in Belarus. It is a country that has now been in revolt against its president for the past 26 years – Alexander Lukashenko.

Tikhanovskaya is himself being exiled in Lithuania. In recent weeks, she has spoken to several European leaders to gather support for the opposition in her home country. Among other things, she has met Erna Solberg.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya leaves a meeting with Angela Merkel in Berlin last week. Photo: Michael Sohn, AP / NTB

Hope it was a joke

The Danish politicians thought they talked to Tikhanovskaya for 40 minutes. Then they realized something was wrong and hung up.

Maybe they became suspicious when the interlocutor started talking about turtle brothels.

At first, the politicians did not know who they had talked to.

– I hope it is a gross joke, but I am of course worried that the participation in the meeting has been abused. In any case, it gives cause for reflection, said the leader of the foreign affairs committee, Martin Lidegaard, according to NTB.

This weekend it became clear that it was the two Russian comedians who were behind it. They have also previously bullied the European Parliament. At the time, they also pretended to be Tikhanovskaya, according to Russian media.

Tikhanovskaya’s employees confirm that they had not spoken to Danish politicians. By the way, they take the incident in a good mood. The episode gives people a reason to smile, they say.

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Massive violence

There have not only been reasons to smile for Tikhanovskaya lately. Admittedly, she had a phone call with her imprisoned husband, Sergei Tikhanovsky. This is the first time they have talked to each other in several months. President Lukashenko has also visited imprisoned opposition politicians. Many interpreted it as a sign of willingness to negotiate.

But soon after, the Belarusian president massively cracked down on demonstrations once again. Violence, water cannons and stun grenades were used. Hundreds have been arrested again.

And it could get worse: Belarusian police could use deadly weapons against protesters, threatening the country’s interior ministry on Monday.

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Over the weekend, Lukashenko used water cannons against protesters in the capital. Foto: Reuters / NTB

Belarusians have been protesting every weekend since the August 9 presidential election.

The opposition believes that President Lukashenko is not the rightful winner of the election.

Mr Lukashenko has received a lot of support from Russian President Vladimir Putin recently. Last week, Tikhanovskaya was personally wanted in Russia. It is still unclear for what. Her name is now in a database of registered wanted persons in Russia.

Helene Skjeggestad is Aftenposten’s correspondent in Russia.

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