In a series of satirical internet videos, brutal Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov accepts the surrender of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy before sending him off to be executed with a machine gun. There’s cocaine, bad jokes about flour, and calls for Biden to save the wayward Zelenskyy. Again, these are meant to be comedy videos.The series is in three parts and appears both on the YouTube channel of comedian Max Komikadze, who impersonates Zelenskyy, and Kadyrov’s personal Telegram channel. In the first, the mock Zelenskyy sits at a desk explaining why he’s surrendering. A giant hand rests on his shoulder but its owner isn’t seen until later when the camera pans out to reveal it’s Kaydrov. When the mock Zelenskyy wavers, Kadyrov gives him a little shake.
In the second video, the mock Zelenskyy stumbles into Kadyov’s office, his face covered in a white substance that’s obviously meant to be cocaine. It’s a reference to Putin repeatedly calling Ukrainians drug addicts. “Forgive me,” Zelenskky says while sniffing. “I was dumb. I was young and hot blooded.” He then begs to join Kadyrov’s personal guard.“Glory to Russia,” the false Zelenskyy yells. Then, as he’s led away. “Wait, will there be flour there?” In the third video, Zelenskyy stands tied up on a firing range ranting while his head is covered in a plastic bag. A soldier pulls the bag off and places a helmet on his head.The soldier takes position down range and opens fire with a light machine gun. In his final moments, the fake Zelenskyy realizes he won’t be joining Kadyov’s troops and calls out to Biden for help. The camera cuts away before the bullets enter his body.Again, this is billed as a comedy video. It’s also an elaborate collaboration. The man playing Zelenskyy goes by Макс КомикадZe on Telegram. He’s a comedian who has spent the past few months developing his Zelenskyy impersonation on YouTube. He often appears in body armor and a tight green shirt, face covered in cocaine, and eyes wild.According to posts on Kadyov’s Telegram channel, these videos were produced in collaboration with infamous Russian pranksters Vladimir Kuznetsov and Aleksei Stolyarov or Vovan and Lexus. The videos were shared on their Telegram channel as well as that of КомикадZe, who posed with the pair in a picture on both their channels.
This is the pair that recently tricked JK Rowling into thinking she was speaking with Zelenskyy. They were banned from YouTube earlier this year after publishing a prank call where they called the UK’s defense minister and asked about a Ukrainian nuclear weapons program while posing as a Ukrainian member of parliament.People have accused the pair of being connected to Russia’s intelligence services, but they’ve denied it. They do, however, pick their targets and collaborators carefully. Their work is always about making the West look silly, they don’t tend to attack powerful figures in their own country. They also get phone numbers to powerful political figures and celebrities that help them with their pranks.In an interview with Meduza, the pair claimed that Kadyrov was off limits as a target. He is not, it turns out, off limits as a collaborator. Greg Walters contributed to the reporting of this article.