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    Russian Foreign Ministry Pranksters Raise a Smile With April Fools' Day Jape

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    Russia's April Fools' joke got a good reception in the US, despite the propensity of journalists there to endlessly repeat baseless stories about alleged Russian hacking, analyst Aleksey Martinov told the Russian newspaper Vzglyad.

    On April Fools' Day, the Russian Foreign Ministry came up with a jape that took aim at the accusations against Russia which have become hot topics in the US.

    A voice recording on April 1 offered various services for callers to the foreign ministry.

    "To arrange a call from a Russian diplomat to your political opponents press one. To use the services of Russian hacker, press two. To request election interference press three, and wait until the next election campaign. Please note, that all calls are recorded for quality improvement and training purposes," the voice told callers.

    ​The foreign ministry posted the recording on social media, where it raised a laugh from many users.

    ​​In the US, false allegations of Russian hacking and election interference have been publicized by media outlets such as CNN and senior figures in the Democratic Party. The latter seek to scapegoat Russia for Hillary Clinton's startling election defeat.

    Despite the bad press directed at Russia, many US news outlets got the joke, although the Associated Press did ask a spokesman to confirm whether it was in fact a joke.

    USA Today called the recording "a cheeky bout of April Fools' Day fun," and the Chicago Tribune told readers: "Don't say Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn't have a sense of humor."

    "Like any good piece of political satire, the joke took aim at something serious: allegations that Russia tried to undermine the 2016 presidential election in the United States and is trying to influence votes elsewhere," the Tribune said.

    CNN correspondent Matthew Chance said that the joke was an attempt to "laugh off," and "sidestep" the allegations, which Russia has categorically denied.

    "People won't be laughing in the US, of course," where the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have launched investigations into the issue, Chance asserted.

    The journalist said that the joke arises from "frustration" in Russia about the coverage the country receives in the US.

    "They (Russians) also see it, just as Trump does, as a witchhunt, as something that the media has perpetrated and pushed forward and as they call it, fake news. It's something that they have categorically denied yet it's something that continues to have traction," Chance said.

    Analyst Aleksey Martinov told the Russian newspaper Vzglyad that some US journalists failed to get the joke because they have started to believe the anti-Russian propaganda peddled before and after the US election.

    "They have started to believe the nonsense that they are spreading," Martinov said.

    "This often happens. When you lie from morning till night, you yourself start to believe in what you are saying. Initially, everyone knows that this is just another lie for the sake of propagandizing certain theses, ordered for financial gain. This sort of thing happens."

    The US House and Senate Intelligence Committees investigations follow a similar investigation launched in Germany after equally false allegations were made about a Russian "disinformation campaign" against the German government. 

    Germany's Federal Intelligence Service (BND) and Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) spent almost a year investigation the allegations. They concluded there is no evidence to back up allegations that Russia had interfered in German politics.


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    April Fools' Day, joke, voice recording, April 1, Russian Foreign Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Russia
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