RUSSIA

Prank Video Ignites Nuclear Fear Among Russian Media

Activist Mark Dice got unsuspecting passers-by to sign an inflammatory petition and the Russian media freaked out

Jun 10, 2015 at 1:57 PM ET

Russian media is whipping up fear about a potential nuclear attack by the United States—and it’s all thanks to a prank video featuring confused people in San Diego.

The video at the center of the nuclear fear-mongering features Americans allegedly signing a petition to annihilate Russia. Mark Dice, a conspiracy theorist and activist, produced the video. It shows him approaching passers-by in San Diego, asking them to support a plan by President Obama to nuke Russia in order to keep America the world’s leading superpower.

Russia’s state-run news agencies picked up the video as evidence of a potential threat. Ren.tv, a federal television channel, posted a story with the headline, “In the U.S., they’ve started collecting signatures for a nuclear attack on Russia.” Government-owned channel RT published stories as well, in Russian and on its U.S. English-language website. Abd state-run publication RIA Novosti declared: “They silently signed. In the U.S. a blogger collected signatures for a nuclear attack on Russia.” All the news coverage led ordinary Russians to talk about the video in droves. Thousands of links to local stories and posts popped up on VKontakte, Russia’s most prominent social media network.

Translation: “I’m in shock, did these people stop for a minute to think about the consequences? Do they think about anything except the status of their country? I’d like to believe that Russia wouldn’t have a petition like this…”

In the U.S., Dice’s video was barely a blip, produced by someone whose commentary often involves conspiracy theories on 9/11, the Illuminati and government propaganda and who just wanted to portray Obama supporters as stupid. But to the Russian media, it served as a warning that Americans have their eyes set on winning some kind of Cold War, a favor to President Vladimir Putin and his efforts to unite Russians against the West.

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