MOSCOW (AFP) - "Hello, Mr President?"
Two Russian pranksters famous for pulling off high-profile hoax phone calls say they tricked France's Emmanuel Macron by pretending to be Ukraine's new president-elect.
The pair, Mr Vladimir "Vovan" Kuznetsov and Mr Alexei "Lexus" Stolyarov, regularly carry out prank calls that dupe the rich and the powerful.
This time, they posed as Mr Volodymyr Zelensky, himself a comedian, who won a landslide victory in Sunday's presidential election.
They released a recording of the 15-minute call online on Wednesday with someone they claim is the 41-year-old French leader, who is the same age as Zelensky.
The supposed Zelensky was in boastful mode after trouncing incumbent Petro Poroshenko, winning 73 per cent of Sunday's vote.
"Seventy-three per cent of Ukrainians, it's just incredible... I feel like (Russian President Vladimir) Putin who got the same score," he joked, as the taped conversation carried on in Russian and French with the help of translators.
"I have the feeling, at least at this stage, that the system on your side is slightly less well organised (than Mr Putin's) and so that must make it a bit more natural. You have not yet put all your opponents in jail," says the person the two pranksters say is President Macron.
The French President's office declined to comment on the video and the claims.
"The President certainly talked with Zelensky on Sunday evening, an exchange on which we later released a statement, as did the Zelensky side. Contact has been well established between the president of the republic (Mr Macron) and his Ukranian counterpart," it added.
Contacted by AFP, the two pranksters stood by their story and said they hoped Mr Macron "is not too upset".
"Vovan" and "Lexus" have a track record of snaring the unwary, counting among their victims Elton John, former British foreign minister Boris Johnson and Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko.
Mr Vovan told AFP in 2016 that the pair wanted to "show the real face, the hypocrisy" of some of Russia's erstwhile partners.
"We only do things that are in the interest of our country," said Lexus.