Fidget spinners — a $5 annoyance that can be purchased at gas stations, grocery stores, and every other place things are sold.

I can only assume they were invented by grandparents in what they believed was a hilariously vengeful move. Teachers hate them, kids love them. Contrary to some claims, there’s zero evidence these spinning gadgets help youngsters with difficulty focusing.

But these innocuous little toys have rankled Russians, many of whom are quite convinced fidget spinners are a dubious device designed to “control the masses”. They’ve accused opposition parties of attempting to “lure youth” and “zombify people.”

An investigation conducted by pro-Kremlin suggested exactly that.

The New York Times reported:

according to one recent report on Rossiya 24 suggesting that Russia’s opposition parties were trying to lure young supporters and raise money by hawking spinners. (The fact that many of the participants in recent nationwide demonstrations organized by the anticorruption crusader Aleksei A. Navalny were young Russians had to be explained somehow.)

“It is a mystery why it has become so popular in Russia right now,” the television reporter said. “Who is promoting this to the masses so actively?”

Cut to a clip of a video blogger selling spinners during anticorruption demonstrations in June under the banner “Spinners from Navally.”

The reporter then held up another piece of evidence from his investigation: a spinner bought at a Moscow children’s store packaged with writing only in English. “Not a word in Russian!” he cautioned.

Commentators piled on, noting that the spinners might indeed be an attempt to “zombify people” so that they could be manipulated.

“In such a manner, our opposition is luring the youth,” Ruslan Ostashko, the editor in chief of a pro-Kremlin website,, told Rossiya 24 in a separate report. “Those who understand political technologies, they understand very clearly that this simple thing is controlling the masses.”

Russia’s state-run consumer protection agency announced plans to further investigate the wily gadgets and their effect on the country’s youth.

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye