Berlin mayor spent 30 minutes talking with fake Klychko until "suspicious questions" caused German official to hang up
25 June, 2022
Photo: Office of the Senate of Berlin

The mayor of Berlin, Franziska Giffey, held an online meeting with the "fake mayor of Kyiv". The meeting with Vitaliy Klychko was allegedly organized at the request of the "Ukrainian side", but within half an hour of the conversation, German officials grew suspicious of the mayor's identity. Now the incident is being investigated by law enforcement officers, reports Der Tagesspiegel.

The Office of the Senate of Berlin announced an online meeting between Franziska Giffey and Vitaliy Klychko in the afternoon of June 24. The meeting was supposed to start at 5 pm, but at 6:45 pm the office announced that the conversation had been interrupted.

"The course of the conversation and the topics raised aroused the distrust of the Berlin side. The conversation was prematurely interrupted," they said.

Officials suspected that they were not talking to Vitaliy Klychko, although the man on the screen looked like him. According to the publication, the "mayor" first asked about the situation in Berlin and the situation with Ukrainian refugees. And then suspicious questions came up: could Berlin help Ukrainian men leave the city and go to war, would Ukrainian refugees receive fraudulent social benefits, and so on?

In addition, according to the mayor, at the beginning of the conversation, German officials were asked if the conversation could be held in Russian and through an interpreter, as there were other non-German-speaking staff who needed to understand what was being said.

German officials received confirmation from Ukrainian Ambassador Andrij Melnyk that a fake Vitaliy Klychko attended the meeting. The office notes that the video conference appears to have been with a real person using deep fake technolgy. The incident is currently being investigated by law enforcement.

"Unfortunately, it is part of the reality that the war is being waged by all means, including online, to undermine trust in digital technologies and discredit Ukraine's partners and allies," the mayor said.

After that, the real mayor of Kyiv reacted to the incident. In a comment to Bild, he said that someone also pretended to be in a conversation with the mayor of Madrid.

Klychko said he hoped to talk to Giffey on the phone soon through official channels. "Also, I don't need an interpreter..." he said.