UK slams Russian pranksters over Boris Johnson ‘Armenia’ call

Britain’s Foreign Office on Thursday criticized “childish” Russian pranksters who phoned Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. (AFP)
Updated 24 May 2018
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UK slams Russian pranksters over Boris Johnson ‘Armenia’ call

LONDON: Britain’s Foreign Office on Thursday criticized “childish” Russian pranksters who phoned Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson posing as the leader of Armenia.
The Guardian newspaper said that Johnson was called by Alexei Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov, known as Lexus and Vovan.
One pretended to be new Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, and the newspaper said that Johnson spoke to them for 18 minutes, discussing topics including the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal.
A recording of the call, said to have taken place last week, was posted on YouTube.
In the recording, Johnson says Britain is “almost 100 percent sure” President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin ordered the attack on Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Moscow denies involvement in the incident, which has sparked a crisis in UK-Russia relations.
Johnson is also heard lamenting the poor state of UK relations with Russia, saying Moscow seems “unable to resist malign activity of one kind or another.”
The Foreign Office said Johnson “realized it was a hoax, and ended the call. We checked it out and knew immediately it was a prank call.”
“The use of chemical weapons in Salisbury and Syria and recent events in Armenia are serious matters,” it said in a statement. “These childish actions show the lack of seriousness of the caller and those behind him.”
Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said “obviously this shouldn’t have happened,” and announced there would be a government investigation into how the hoaxers got through to Johnson.
Britain suspects the comedy duo have backing from the Kremlin.
Stolyarov and Kuznetsov, who have fooled high-profile victims around the world, have denied links to Russia’s security services. In 2015, they phoned Elton John pretending to be Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had criticized the leader.


French football fans queue for shirt carrying second star

Updated 17 August 2018
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French football fans queue for shirt carrying second star

  • National team’s new shirts carry a second star to mark Les Bleus’ World Cup win in Russia
  • The Nike-branded strips are huge money-spinners costing €85 euros each

PARIS: Scores of French football fans queued on Friday to snap up the first of the national team’s new shirts carrying a second star to mark Les Bleus’ World Cup win in Russia.
The crowning of France as world champions unleashed a wave of euphoria across the country, helping foster a brief sense of national unity after years of tension and self-examination in the wake of attacks by militants since 2015.
“I’ll keep it all my life. It’s the second star! They made our dreams come true on the pitch,” said fan Brice Chevalier as he queued to enter the French Football Federation’s store in Paris.
France first won the World Cup, earning its first star, in 1998 with Zinedine Zidane its talisman and playmaker in an era when the team was referred to as Black-Blanc-Beur (Black-White-Arab), a reference to its diverse ethnic make up.
In Russia, they beat Croatia 4-2, with President Emmanuel Macron leaping for joy in the stands.
“I’m chuffed, I’ve been waiting a month for this moment,” said another life-long supporter, Jerome Cornec.
The Nike-branded strips are huge money-spinners. France’s official shirt costs €85 euros ($97).