Who Are the Russian Pranksters That Tricked Prince Harry and Who Else Did They Target?

Prince Harry was recently tricked into sharing his personal views about his royal resignation. He was targeted by two Russian Youtube stars with a history of duping celebrities and politicians. So who are these Russian pranksters and who else have they targeted?

Alexei Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov
Alexei Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov | Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/ Getty Images

Who are the Russian hoaxers that tricked Prince Harry

Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexey Stolyarov are famous in Russia for their elaborate prank phone calls. The pair, who is also known as Lexus and Vovan, has been duping Russian celebrities and politicians for years. 

In a 2016 interview with The Atlantic, the duo revealed that they began targeting celebrities in 2014, but found it boring. “It’s more interesting talking to people who decide people’s fates,” Kuznetsov told the outlet.

Alexei Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov
Alexei Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov | Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/ Getty Images

They also claimed that they have no official ties to the Kremlin, but do see Vladimir Putin in a positive light and agree with him on many issues. Because Kuznetsov and Stolyarov have had shows on Kremlin-controlled TV stations and speak highly of the Russian government, many believe that they mislead world leaders just to get information. 

How did they trick Prince Harry ?

As first reported by The Sun, Prince Harry spoke to Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexey Stolyarov on two separate occasions — once on New Year’s Eve and then again on Jan. 22. During the calls, the pranksters pretended to be Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg and her father, Svante. 

With Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex officially stepping back from their royal positions, the tricksters made sure to ask questions about their exit. “I can assure you, marrying a prince or princess is not all it’s made out to be,” Prince Harry apparently said in the call. “But sometimes the right decision isn’t always the easy one, and this decision certainly wasn’t the easy one but it was the right decision for our family, the right decision to be able to protect my son.”

Pretending to be Thunberg’s father, the pranksters also asked Prince Harry about his transition to normal life. “You forget, I was in the military for ten years so I’m more normal than my family would like to believe,” Harry responded. “But certainly being in a different position now gives us the ability to say things and do things that we might not have been able to do — And seeing as everyone under the age of 35 or 36, seems to be carrying out an activist’s role, gives us the opportunity to try and make more of a difference without being criticized.”

Who else have they pranked?

The pair’s Youtube channel, Vovan222prank, features numerous videos asserting to contain recorded prank calls with various notable figures. Kuznetsov and Stolyarov have duped numerous American politicians, and they managed to trick Congresswoman Maxine Waters twice. 

In a statement to The Washington Post earlier this year, Waters addressed her recent phone call with Kuznetsov and Stolyarov in which they misled her using the voice of a fake Greta Thunberg.

Alexei Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov
Alexei Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov | Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/ Getty Images

 “This was just another stupid prank by the same Russian operatives who have targeted many U.S. elected officials, including Rep. Adam Schiff, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Mitch McConnell, and late-Senator John McCain, and international heads of state such as Emmanuel Macron,” wrote Waters.

Why do they target politicians like Prince Harry?

The duo has hoodwinked notable celebrities, like music legend Sir Elton John. But they tend to target high-level politicians. They’ve duped numerous heads of state including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti, Belorussian leader Alexander Lukashenko, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

When talking to The Atlantic, Kuznetsov and Stolyarov admitted they’d like to prank more Hollywood celebrities but don’t because they’re “much harder to reach than American senators.”