Don't say Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn't have a sense of humor.
For April Fools' Day, the Russian Foreign Ministry put out an “official joke” — a video of a proposed voice-mail message for its embassy answering machines. In the clip, recorded in Russian and English, an automated recording tells callers to press 1 for “a call from a Russian diplomat to your political opponent.” You can press 2 “to use the services of Russian hackers,” or 3 "to request election interference." (The English portion of the recording begins about 26 seconds into the video.)
The “pilot” message was posted on the ministry's Facebook page, nestled between serious articles about bilateral discussions with Kyrgyzstan and daily briefings. It's billed as something being tested for Russian embassies and consulates.
An unnamed ministry official, reached by the Associated Press, confirmed that the foreign ministry did produce the joke post. And 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.
Putin has vociferously denied such accusations, suggesting that they're part of a campaign to smear Russia and further sully the country's bilateral relations with other states. On Thursday, he told reporters that the meddling claims were "lies" and "domestic American politics."
Asked whether Russia interfered, Putin said, “Read my lips: No.”
“All those things are fictional, illusory and provocations — lies. All these are used for domestic American political agendas. The anti-Russian card is played by different political forces inside the United States to trade on that and consolidate their positions inside,” Putin told a panel at the International Arctic Forum in Arkhangelsk.
On social media, most reacted to the Foreign Ministry's proposed prank with LOLs. A few wondered whether the mainstream media (labeled, as always, by some as "fake news”) would be fooled into covering it as evidence of collusion and Russia's hacking of the 2016 American presidential election. One person, though had a more serious suggestion: