Pray Do Tell, Mrs Patel: Home Sec Tells Pranksters UK Ready to Deprive Russians of Basic Rights

© Photo : YouTube / Vovan222prankScreengrab of Vovan and Lexus' interview with UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.
Screengrab of Vovan and Lexus' interview with UK Home Secretary Priti Patel. - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.03.2022
The Home Secretary confirmed last week that she had been tricked into a conversation with Russian pranksters posing as the Ukrainian prime minister soon after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said he too had been targeted by a “Russian imposter”. Each of the conversations have shed light on the UK’s behind-the-scenes position on the Ukraine crisis.
Russian pranksters Vladimir ‘Vovan’ Kuznetsov and Alexei ‘Lexus’ Stolyarov released the full video of their conversation with UK Home Secretary Priti Patel while disguised as Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. The clip offers insights into the Home Office’s response to the crisis between the West and Russia, from lobbying within Interpol aimed at kicking Russia out of the international policing body, to the seizure of Russian tycoon-owned assets and even "special screening" for Russian nationals seeking to enter the UK.
A video of the call was originally posted on the pranksters' official YouTube channel, which was blocked by the platform on Saturday.
Commenting on her government’s efforts to eject Russia from Interpol, Patel complained that the body’s reaction so far has been “absolutely feeble” and “very weak.”
“They should’ve just gone for a blanket suspensions because of the barbarians that Russia are basically, and the way in which they abuse Interpol systems,” Patel said. She promised to pursue the matter with the UK’s Five Eyes intelligence alliance, and the US especially. “This is also a test for America to get leaning into the system and to really make sure that we can have tougher measures against Russia,” she said.
The Home Secretary have her assurance that support for Britain’s stance wasn’t limited to western nations, and that Kenya has been “a big ally and a big supporter and a big voice”.

Patel also offered insight into the ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine’ exchange in international organisations such as Interpol. “We need to work with the United Arab Emirates. General [Ahmed Naser] Al-Raisi was elected to Interpol, and of course the United Kingdom supported his election. So we have not finished, we have absolutely not finished on this, we really have not. And there have to be intensive efforts collectively on this. And that is a commitment that I absolutely make to you and your country,” she said.

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Keeping Allies in Line
Patel promised that the UK would do its part to keep allies in line generally, and make sure that they are “more robust” in their support for Kiev.
“And I think, Prime Minister, if I may say so, not just on Interpol but on other issues, you see some of our allies working at a different level compared with the United Kingdom. You’ll find that we are out there in a very, very strong and forceful way, and that there are others trying to catch up,” she said.
Thanked by the ‘Ukrainian Prime Minister’ for the Home Office’s simplification of UK visa procedures for Ukrainians, Patel reported that, as of 15 March, more than 4,000 visas had been issued to date “for Ukrainian nationals to come to the United Kingdom to be reunited with their family”. Patel promised to simplify the process further, and gave her personal “reassurance to making this scheme work”.
Trolled by her interviewer, who said he was happy that the UK wasn’t worried about Ukrainian nationalists, Banderites and neo-Nazis coming to the country under the guise of refugees, Patel assured him that Britons are not afraid. “Clearly they’re not. For us the support is very significant here. It really is,” she said.
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Russian Property, Russian Rights
Patel also briefed her interlocutor on the government’s new powers to deprive Russian tycoons affiliated with the Russian government of property in the UK.
These powers, she said, “will enable us as a government to do two things … first of all, to clamp down on illicit Russian funds in London, but also in terms of the ability to go after their wealth, and their wealth could be their Ferraris, it could be their properties, it could be a range of assets, through new laws that we have brought in.”

Reminded of anarchist protesters’ seizure of Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska’s London mansion, and asked whether perhaps it could become Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky’s residence when he comes to the UK, Patel agreed. “Absolutely Prime Minister, I hear exactly the case that you are making. We want to turn this around. We want justice for Ukraine and justice for Ukrainians off the back of the ill-gotten proceeds that Russian oligarchs have basically been living a very, very fancy and grand life in London. We want to change that.”

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Patel also revealed that she is in the midst of drafting legislation that would limit the influence of “Russian agents” in the UK.

“My work in this area hasn’t just come about because of this crisis. We’ve been working on foreign agent registration, looking to change our laws for some time. And in fact I’m bringing forward some legislation that was announced last year on hostile state activities which covers Russia in a very, very in-depth way, but also looks at many of the issues around foreign agent registration, permissive activities across our institutions, across the state, across cultural organisations and also educational establishments too,” the Home Secretary said.

Asked whether perhaps all Russians in the UK should have their rights restricted for supporting the Russian government, including through checks “in a special way” on entering the country, Patel pledged that there was “work taking place”.

“That is absolutely right. And you would expect me to say nothing less on this whole issue. We absolutely have some of the finest security checks, also working with our agencies. That’s effectively the approach that we are taking. And as you will totally appreciate and recognise, Prime Minister, we have stepped them up very, very significantly,” Patel said.

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Encouraged by the pranksters to keep working with organisations such as Bellingcat while holding investigative journalist Julian Assange locked up in prison, Patel assured her interlocutor that “our approach is very, very clear in terms of the organisations we work with”.
“And of course, in certain cases, such as the Assange case, we have a judicial process that has to work within the United Kingdom. And when it comes to some of our laws such as extradition, of course that’s in the hands of the courts,” she added.
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‘Englishwoman Plays It Dirty’
At the end of the interview, Patel was asked to repeat the well-known “Slava Ukraini” (‘Glory to Ukraine’) expression used by Ukrainian nationalists going back to the Second World War. She was also trolled into saying “Anglichanka Gadit!”, a Russian colloquialism meaning “An Englishwoman makes mischief” or “The Englishwoman plays it dirty,” a reference to the 19th-century foreign policy of Queen Victoria against Russia.

She also gave a shout-out to “Vovan and Lexus”, calling them “incredible heroes” and thanking them “for the work that they have been doing to fight for an independent Ukraine”.

Patel confirmed in a tweet last week that she had been duped into giving an interview to the Russian pranksters after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace tweeted that he had also been spoken to by a Russian “imposter claiming to be the Ukrainian PM”.
The Wallace video call, held while the Defence Secretary was travelling in Poland, provided important details about the UK’s strategy in the Russia-West crisis over Ukraine, including plans to sail the country’s Navy into the Black Sea, the state of weapons deliveries, and even veiled support for a Ukrainian nuclear weapons programme.
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Vovan and Lexus have gained notoriety all over the world for their pranks on politicians, celebrities and other public figures.
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