In a recent report, Russia-24, a state-owned news channel, suggests that fidget spinners are being used by Russian opposition parties in order to recruit young people. As reported by The New York Times, the reporters in Russia-24’s initial story say, “It is a mystery why it has become so popular in Russia right now. Who is promoting this to the masses so actively?”
The video segment says the toys were being distributed at a rally for opposition leader Alexei Navalny and in online ads that direct viewers to YouTube channels that promote opposition politicians. The reporters said that while the toy’s popularity was declining in the West, fidget spinners are more popular than ever in Russia. “As you can see here there is only writing in English, on the other side there is not a word in Russian,” says one of the show’s anchors during the report, presenting a new spinner in its packaging to the camera.
According to Newsweek, a second report on Russia-24 also aired on July 12th, directly saying fidget spinners were an “object for zombifying” and a form of “hypnosis.” The program featured a report from psychologist Svetlana Filatova, claiming that the spinners could help dexterity in children but otherwise “dulls” people’s minds.
The reports spurred Russia’s consumer protection agency, Rospotrebnadzor, into action, saying on Tuesday they would launch an investigation into the toy.
“There has been an aggressive promotion of so-called spinners among children and teenagers in Russia recently,” the agency said in a statement. “Taking into consideration the anxiety among the community of parents and teachers, Rospotrebnadzor, in cooperation with child health research institutions, will study the effect spinners are having on children, including the possible negative impact.”
While fidget spinners have actually posed problems — Bluetooth-enabled models have been reportedly exploding, several US schools have banned them as being distracting, and Kim Kardashian releasing her Daddy Money Fidget Spinner to some, signified the Biblical end of times — that they are being used as a zombifying recruiting tool for vulnerable youth seems laughable, even for Russia.