Why Russia thinks fidget spinners are the tools of the opposition | News | DW | 19.07.2017
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Why Russia thinks fidget spinners are the tools of the opposition

Russia's consumer protection service has warned that the popular toy could be detrimental to children. But there could be another underlying motivation for restricting spinners - political suppression.

Fidget spinners were designed to keep the hands occupied, but the Russian government believes there could be a more ominous reason for their popularity.

On Wednesday, the Russian state news agency Rospotrebnadzor reported that authorities were investigating the popular toy "considering the anxiety of parents and teachers."

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Russia's Consumer Oversight Agency announced that it had teamed up with a group of researchers to "study the influence" of fidget spinners on children's wellbeing.

However, there could be another underlying reason for the proposed crack down: their alleged promotion for Russia's political opposition.

Spinning for change?

It started in late May when a video of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny playing with a fidget spinner in court went viral. Navalny is seeking to challenge for the Russian presidency in next year's elections and is one of President Vladimir Putin's most outspoken critics.

Days later, state media reported that opposition activists were using spinners to attract supporters, while online adverts for the toy often appeared before videos promoting the opposition.

Last week, a show called "Virus" on Rossiya 24 television described the toy as an "instrument for zombifying" and a "form of hypnosis."

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Spinners, the presenter warned, "often have a negative effect on the psyche and make a person susceptible to manipulation", adding that "possibly it is not by chance that they have started selling spinners" at opposition rallies, he added.

Pending the investigation, Russia's consumer protection agency advised parents who do buy the toy for their children to only buy it from authorized sellers, rather than on the street, and to check them for broken parts.

Watch video 03:14

The king of the fidget spinners

dm/rt (dpa, AFP, AP)