Russian state TV is no stranger to outlandish conspiracy theories that aim to harm or discredit the West, but the latest anti-American innuendo promoted on state television gave pause to even the most ardent tin foil hat enthusiasts. Pro-Kremlin propagandists are insinuating that the American “deep state” is to blame for staging the suicides of Jan. 6 Capitol Hill officers, as well as the hanging of the Belarusian opposition activist Vitaly Shishov.
Shishov, who headed an organization that helped dissidents escape the clutches of the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, was found dead in Kyiv, Ukraine under highly suspicious circumstances. Ukrainian authorities are investigating his death as either a suicide or a murder staged to look like suicide. Only days earlier, Shishov’s organization known as “Belarus House in Ukraine” had helped the husband of Belarus Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya escape to Ukraine.
Two Belarusian sports officials were caught on tape pressuring Tsimanouskaya to leave Tokyo and return to her native country for the crime of publicly criticizing the incompetence of the Belarusian Olympic officials. Applying psychological pressure, the two men compared the athlete to a fly caught in a spiderweb, demanded that she surrender and submit to their plan—and when she dared to resist, ominously suggested that people in similar circumstances end up committing suicide.
Days later, the man whose organization helped her husband did—supposedly—commit suicide.
A cloud of suspicion surrounds Lukashenko’s regime, whose oppressive tactics include a series on state TV that names and shames defectors and opposition activists as “traitors” and features their photos next to a massive noose. On August 3, Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya—whose likeness was featured in one such lineup—told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that she realizes she could be next. “I understand that I can disappear at any moment,” Tsikhanouskaya said.
Fearing reprisals, multiple opposition activists left Belarus and moved to other countries, including Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine.
The Belarusian dictator recently demonstrated his obsessive desire to capture his foes when the Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius was intercepted just to apprehend dissident journalist Roman Protasevich. The captured journalist now serves at Lukashenko’s mercy, issuing public statements designed to undermine the opposition. These proclamations are widely disseminated by the Belarusian—and Russian—state media outlets.
Given the Kremlin’s ongoing support of the Minsk tyrant, it’s unsurprising that the Russian state media is attempting to redirect the suspicions swirling around Shishov’s untimely death. While the civilized world fixed its gaze on Lukashenko’s regime as the most likely culprit, Moscow opted to point the finger at… the U.S.
Weaving a tangled web, overzealous state TV host Olga Skabeeva intimated this Wednesday that America “has the most to gain” from Shishov’s suspected murder. “Curiously, all of this unfurled after Tsikhanouskaya went to America… After she met with Joe Biden,” Skabeeva exclaimed. The screen filled up with flashing words: “Double standards,” “Hypocrisy,” and the underlying images of Shishov, Biden, the White House, and scenes from the Capitol insurrection.
Tangential correlation with events at the U.S. Capitol was soon explained when the segment attempted to tie Shishov’s death with the suicides of four D.C. police officers who responded to the U.S. Capitol insurrection.
One day earlier, the state TV news program Vesti on channel Rossiya-24 broadcast a ludicrous conspiracy theory from a random Gab user, claiming that “the deep state is getting rid of witnesses” in order to prevent them from testifying before the Jan. 6 House Committee.
On Wednesday’s 60 Minutes, Skabeeva led the audience down the same rabbit hole. Reporting from Washington, Valentin Bogdanov played along, claiming that in spite of the transfer of presidential power, “the deep state” remains in place and that is the entity making “sensitive decisions.” Bogdanov said, “Sooner or later, the officers will have to testify before the Committee.” Skabeeva added: “There’ll be no one left to testify.” Bogdanov and Skabeeva jointly complained that Tucker Carlson of Fox News is the only one in the United States covering such matters, but he is being “marginalized to the max” by the mainstream media, which presents him as a conspiracy theorist akin to Alex Jones.
CEO of Mosfilm Karen Shakhnazarov continued the theme by commenting on Shishov’s death: “Looks like it was done by those who want to compromise Lukashenko, someone who wants to set him up.” Shakhnazarov added that subversive set-ups are among America’s “old traditions.” Skabeeva agreed: “As far as Shishov is concerned, the handwriting is recognizable. Lukashenko is the last person who would benefit from that. Just as Putin had no advantage in the poisoning of Skripal… It’s called a provocation.”
Skyping into the studio to discuss Shishov’s demise, blogger Anatoly Sharij put a big fly in the state TV’s ointment when he retorted: “I don’t believe that Americans killed him.” Grim-faced, Skabeeva stared at the screen. But Russian lawmaker Aleksei Zhuravlyov did even more to demolish the elaborately erected illusion of an American-made provocation when he suddenly channeled Lukashenko and angrily asserted, “Every political asylum ends like this. It turns out this way for all the traitors.”