The Russian government is clearly enjoying today’s April Fools’ festivities. Their April 1st gag has captured international attention.
The Russian Foreign Ministry had a cheeky gag lined up for today where their Facebook page trumpeted new embassy voicemail options. Among those options? Friendly meddling in your desired county’s electoral process. Launching hackers for your personal gain is just a button away.
“To arrange a call from a Russian diplomat to your political opponent, press 1,” the recording begins, in Russian and English. Press 2 “to use the services of Russian hackers,” and 3 “to request election interference.”
It’s definitely a sharp, self-aware bit of lampooning from a government that insists publicly that they have had nothing to do with U.S. political influence. Cheeky gags aside, Vladmir Putin has been the subject of protest within Russia. Massive anti-corruption demonstrations last weekend resulted in hundreds of arrests. Putin critic and Progress Party leader Alexey Navalny was quickly taken into custody on his arrival at a rally. As clever of a joke as this may be, critics of corruption, doping and Russian military intervention in Ukraine aren’t laughing. They’re looking for serious change and they aren’t just dialling a number to get it.