Russian pranksters who target Western politicians get state award, says RIA

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A duo of Russian pranksters who often target and compromise people the Russian state is interested in have been given a top state award in the Kremlin, the RIA state news agency reported on Thursday.

RIA published a picture of the two pranksters Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov, who use the aliases "Vovan and Lexus," at a Kremlin award ceremony wearing what appear to be Order of Friendship awards as they clutched flutes of champagne.

It said the ceremony had taken place on Wednesday.

The award is given to Russian and foreign nationals for strengthening peace, friendship, cooperation and understanding between Russia and other nations, among other criteria.

There was no immediate word from the Russian pranksters who last month released footage of a video call they did with British Foreign Secretary David Cameron after tricking him into thinking he was speaking to a former Ukrainian president.

The duo is well-known inside Russia having duped a string of politicians over the years, including Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and, in 2022, Britain's then-defence minister, Ben Wallace.

(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge)