Russian officials are having their feathers ruffled by hilarious pranksters who are making joke calls.
Hackers have cleverly created a website as a ‘weapon’ which will annoy Russian government workers, and ultimately distract them from the Ukraine war.
The calls make for great listening, with one irritated caller exclaiming: ‘I wasn’t calling you, you say I was calling you. What do you want to hear from me now?’
The website auto-dials the officials, connects them to each other and allows people to listen in to their confusion.
It was made by a group of international hacktivists to combine prank calling and robocalling into an automated nuisance.
By visiting the site and clicking a button, the website will start calling a list of leaked phone numbers belonging to the Russian government, military, and intelligence.
People can hear the officials wasting their time trying to figure out why they’re speaking to each other, and who initiated the call.
You can listen to the results of the brilliant prank below.
A full translated transcript of the call
Soldier: On duty officer, 28th AI, ensign [same as Michman in the navy] Kaleshenko.
FSB officer: Hello?
Soldier: Dispatcher from 28th AI, ensign Kaleshenko.
FSB officer: Come again?
Solider: Dispatcher from 28th AI, ensign Kaleshenko!
FSB officer: Yes, ensign Kaleshenko, I listen.
Soldier: Erm… you called me.
FSB officer: No I did not call. I couldn’t call you from this number. On what basis are you calling me on a governmental number?
Soldier: My phone, it rang and I picked it up.
FSB officer: No, I am now sitting in my office, working off instructions.
Soldier: Look, my phone rang and I picked it up.
FSB officer: Cool, okay. I wasn’t calling you, you say I was calling you. What do you want to hear from me now?
Soldier: I don’t want anything. I simply picked up the phone.
FSB officer: Heh, okay, alright.
Soldier: Please excuse me, my phone rang and I simply picked it up.
FSB officer: Okay, alright. Dropping the line. Thank you.
Shera, one of the site’s creators, told Wired: ‘We’re hoping for confusion, that they get annoyed, and that these might even be interesting calls to listen to for people who speak Russian.
‘This war started inside Moscow and St. Petersburg, within the power circle of Putin, and that’s who we want to annoy and disturb.’
The group behind the site – called WasteRussianTime.today – is calling itself the ‘Obfuscated Dreams of Scheherazade’ and is made up of artists, coders and activists.
WasteRussianTime.today is designed to work by starting a VoIP call, automatically dialling 40 of the leaked phone numbers, and merging the user into a conference call with the first two Russian officials’ phones that connect.
The site’s creators told Wired they decided not to let visitors to the site actually speak on the calls, for fear they might say something which could identify and endanger themselves.
‘Join the civil intervention against war,’ a message on the site reads. ‘If you’re on the phone, you can’t drop bombs or coordinate soldiers.’
Since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in February, hacktivist groups like Anonymous have declared ‘cyber war’ against Vladimir Putin’s government.
What is robocalling?
A robocall is a phone call that uses a computerised autodialer to deliver a pre-recorded message.
Robocalls are often used in political and telemarketing phone campaigns but also used by hackers to scam people.
The Ukrainian government added to this by releasing a list of what it said were the names and contact details of 620 Russian intelligence agents.
Using information from that list, the creators of WasteRussianTime.today say they’ve assembled more than 5,000 Russian government phone numbers.
The contacts reportedly belong to landlines and cell phones of the Russian military police, staff of its parliament and even its security agency.