The Russia Today media outlet reported how well-known pranksters Vladimir ‘Vovan’ Kuznetsov and Alexei ‘Lexus’ Stolyarov, tricked North Macedonian President Zoran Zaev into agreeing to ‘bribe’ the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for local church recognition, whilst claiming they too are descendants of Alexander the Great like him.
According to the media report, Vovan’ lured North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev by pretending to be Ukraine’s former president, Petro Poroshenko.
The report continues by saying that during the conversation 'Poroshenko' offered a bizarre history lesson in order to get more personal. “I have [connections] to Alexander the Great,” he proclaimed. “Vinnitsa, my hometown, was founded by Alexander the Great, he liked its wine,” the ‘Ukrainian president’ said. We’re relatives, and I can be called Peter of Macedon.
‘Unfortunately for Zaev he readily agreed: “I read about it, yes.”
The prank comes at a precarious time as North Macedonia hopes to gain EU Membership after signing an agreement with Greece, where it made changes to its constitution asserting that it makes no claim to Ancient Macedonia and in particular to Alexander the Great. This latest expose suggests that Zoran Zaev perhaps does not believe in what he signed with Greece but did it more so out of political expediency.
As the RT expose continued: ‘Ultimately, ‘Poroshenko’ landed on his desired topic – the precarious status of North Macedonia’s Orthodox Church. Back in 1967, it unilaterally ceded from the Serbian Orthodox Church, which condemned the Macedonian clergy as schismatic.
“Since then, the Macedonian Church has remained unrecognised by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and all other churches close to the Serbian one. Things began to change last May when Constantinople agreed to review its status."
“And here is where the bizarre prank got more interesting. “Maybe you heard the good news that we’ve received the tomos from the Constantinople Church,” ‘Poroshenko’ said, referring to a decree which granted the self-proclaimed Ukrainian Orthodox Church formal recognition from Moscow.’
“ ‘Poroshenko’ then bragged about the close ties he established with Bartholomew I, the Archbishop of Constantinople. “I met with him recently, Bartholomew is my friend now,” he proceeded until Zaev interrupted him, saying: “Oh, you need to lobby for us also!”
At the time, a formal recognition by Constantinople was something that could help North Macedonia’s pro-Western government to get closer to NATO and EU membership. “I would appreciate very much [if you could say] some good words from your side to Bartholomew,” Zaev pleaded.
“After a while, he asked if there’s “any hope” for him. The pranksters explained that Bartholomew’s approval comes at a price. “I should let you know about some condition... [I made a personal donation] to Bartholomew,” ‘Poroshenko’ admitted, adding that the “donation” was somewhere around €100,000 ($112,000).”
“Yes, very good, no problem!” the North Macedonian premier enthusiastically replied. He also agreed to provide the money in cash to avoid “some kind of bureaucratic procedure.”
"It’s OK, there will be a donation in cash, normally we will do it because they need support. We’ll do it."
“So I can arrange your personal [meeting with] him and we can bring all that stuff together,” the bogus Poroshenko suggested, telling the North Macedonian PM that there would be "a discount” if he comes. “My friend, thank you very much, that is what we needed,” Zaev concluded.’