According to reporting from Reuters, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry “optimistically discussed expanding American coal exports to Ukraine” with two men he believed were the Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and a translator. They were actually Russian pranksters who are known as the “Jerky Boys of Russia.”
During the 22-minute phone call, which is posted in its entirety on Russian news site Vesti, Perry talked with Russian comedians Vladimir Krasnov and Alexei Stolyarov about such policy issues as: the Nord Stream 2 pipeline (which would bring natural gas to Europe across the Baltic sea); increasing liquefied natural gas exports to European countries; the US decision to withdraw from the Paris accord and US coal exports to Ukraine (of which Perry suggested, “negotiation is always possible.”)
Krasnov and Stolyarov have pranked the likes of pranked Elton John, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, US Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA). According to Reuters, they set up the call with Perry last week — about a month after Perry met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
Perry’s aide confirmed to Reuters that the secretary had been tricked and that "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 phone conversation is surprisingly mundane for a prank, at least until they start discussing manure. According to the Pravda Report newspaper, at one point the fake Ukrainian PM made reference to a new biofuel invented by President Poroshenko made from a mix of “home-brewed alcohol and pig manure.”
Perry can be heard in the phone call saying he’d like to get more information about the new “scientific development.”