AUSTIN, TX — Rick Perry, who resided at the governor’s mansion in Austin for 14 years as the state’s longest-running governor, was the victim not of Russian hackers recently, but Russian pranksters.
A man passing himself as the Ukrainian prime minister with his translator fooled Perry, now Energy Secretary in the Trump administration into a long, wonkish conversation primarily on the virtues of pig manure as a power source, according to a published report.
“Secretary Perry is the latest target of two Russian pranksters,” Department of Energy spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes conceded to the The Washington Post via email. “These individuals are known for pranking high-level officials and celebrities, particularly those who are supportive of an agenda that is not in line with their governments. In this case, the energy security of Ukraine.”
Posing as Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, the prankster, Vladimir “Vovan” Kuznetsov was joined by his “translator” Alexei “Lexus” Stolyarov, in the elaborate ruse. During what the Post described as a “winding, wonkish and occasionally obscure conversation,” the men discussed a number of issues: A potential pipeline across the Baltic Sea for Russian gas, cyber attacks on the U.S. power grid, natural gas exploration in Ukraine and the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, the Post reported.
“I hope that stepping away from the Paris accord will not have any negative impact with our relationship with the Ukraine,” Perry said at one point in all earnestness. “We tried to divorce the politics from this and really just let our record stand, one that I’m very proud of.”
Perry referenced his long tenure as Texas governor as informing his knowledge of possibly extracting oil and natural gas in Ukraine, referencing a scheduled August meeting where the subject matter would be discussed. “What we have seen in Texas is the great increase of productivity, particularly in shale gas because of hydraulic fracturing and the directional drilling,” Perry told the fake prime minister.
Then the conversation turned to pig manure. The “prime minister” referenced a new biofuel invented by Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko, a new energy source made from home-brewed alcohol and pig manure. The former Texas governor seemed intrigued by this porcine petrol, expressing a desire for more information he labeled an important “scientific development.”
Perry’s actually met the Ukranian prime minister before, hosting Groysman and his delegation at the DOE in a meeting widely reported in the Ukranian press, the agency told the Post. Three weeks after that gathering, Perry’s office got a telephone call from the office of the actual prime minister ahead of another planned meeting with the Ukranian delegation in August, according to the newspaper.
It would appear that exquisite timing provided the pranksters cover for their prank call. In his defense, the pranksters have a long list of other victims of their deception: Elton John, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Croatian prime minister, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
In the case of Perry, the pranksters handed him yet another “oops” moment to add to his growing collection (or ой in Russian, pronounced oy.) The whole conversation was posted in its entirety on Vesti, a Russian news site.
Official photo of Rick Perry via State of Texas