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Russia probes fidget spinners over health fears
[MOSCOW] Russia's state consumer watchdog warned Tuesday over possible harmful effects on children from an addiction to fidget spinners, the craze sweeping playgrounds around the world.
It came after state TV said the toys could make people susceptible to the messages of the political opposition.
The Rospotrebnadzor watchdog said it had noted "the aggressive promotion of so-called spinners around children and teenagers" and was aware of concern from parents and teachers.
It said it would ask scientists to "study the effects of the influence of spinners on children's health, including possible negative consequences".
The announcement, accompanied by warnings not to buy spinners on the street and to check them for chemical smells, came after fear-mongering over the toys on state television.
A show called "Virus" on Rossiya 24 television on July 12 called spinners an "instrument for zombifying" and a "form of hypnosis".
Spinners "often have a negative effect on the psyche and make a person susceptible to manipulation", the presenter warned.
"Possibly it is not by chance that they have started selling spinners" at opposition rallies, he added.
The Life News pro-Kremlin news site on Tuesday ran a feature on "Seven tragedies that happened to children because of spinners," including a six-year-old boy who got one stuck on his finger.
The move to check spinners prompted plenty of ridicule.
"How would you check this? Make 1,000 children play with 1,000 spinners for 1,000 hours and then make them write a test?" wrote video blogger and comedian Yury Khovansky on Twitter.
The toys first became popular in the United States this spring before hitting Europe. They have been banned at some schools in the US, France and Britain.
US President Donald Trump's son Barron was photographed playing with one last month as he descended the steps of Air Force One.