Volodymyr Zelensky was sceptical when he picked up the phone. At the other end of the line was Kim Jong-un telling him he was sending Vladmir Putin to help him get out of Kyiv.
A Kim impersonator has revealed the incredible story of how he turned to a pretend Putin to help a lookalike Zelensky escape war-ravaged Ukraine.
Howard X, an Australian who makes a living impersonating the North Korean dictator, has told ABC how he led something of an international effort to rescue Umid Isabaev, a Zelensky impersonator.
Mr Isabaev, who is originally from Uzbekistan, had been living in Ukraine after a photograph of him sleeping on a Russian train went viral. He was spotted by producers of Servant of the People, which starred the Ukrainian president, and appeared in the show as Mr Zelensky’s double.
Mr X, who lives in Hong Kong, said he became aware of Mr Isabaev when the pair appeared together in a Russian documentary on impersonators around the world. The pretend Mr Kim said that when Russia invaded Ukraine he called Mr Isabaev to check on him.
“I rang up and he happened to be in Kyiv. I said, ‘What the hell are you doing? You need to get the f— out of there’,” Mr X said.
Mr X then turned to an impersonator peer for help: a Polish man, Steve Poland, who is the spitting image of Vladimir Putin.