When a video of a rear-driving car cruising around Russia’s Stavropol region appeared online recently, one TV channel tweeted to ask Elon Musk what he thought. When Musk replied, people joked that he might be a Russian spy.
“How do you like this?” asked the NTV channel in a tweet, prompting a response from Musk (in Russian): “Haha awesome.” Naturally, the exchange triggered some joking online about how the billionaire might be a secret Russian spy — the key word there being “joking.”
RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan even commented that “Agent Musk” had been busted.
But the light-hearted (and definitely not serious) speculation was all a bit too much for Polygraph, the “fact-checking” outfit of the US government-funded Radio Free Europe, which sprung into action to investigate.
“No, Elon Musk is Not a Russian Spy,” the headline confirms, as though responding to some kind of serious speculation that the US-based South African entrepreneur might actually be an agent of Moscow.
Why investigate such a ridiculous claim?
The fact that many Russians had used the word “Nash” (ours) in their posts about Musk gave Polygraph “a base” for the fact-check “even if the claims seemed to be mere jokes” (which they definitely were).
The word “ours” is not just any old “innocent” word Polygraph explained, because the phrase “Krim Nash” (Crimea is ours) was used a lot on social media in 2014 after the reunification of Crimea with Russia.
Nonetheless, Polygraph explained that the word “ours” has actually been “paramount” to the “Kremlin’s domestic propaganda” under Vladimir Putin’s “reign” (we must have missed the part when Russia reverted back to a monarchy).
So of course “Elon Musk Nash” was a matter worthy of serious probing and Polygraph spoke to a number of ‘experts’ to decipher the deeper meanings behind the jokes. Shockingly, all three experts chosen by Polygraph confirmed that using the word “ours” about anything is something terribly nefarious.