“George W. Bush said that Putin has a microchip implanted in his shoulder”. This was the headline in a story published last week by the Russian daily Moskovskiy Komsomolets (MK). Had a former American President suddenly engaged in spreading disinformation about the current Head of the Russian State?

Lost in translation

The article in MK summarised statements George W. Bush made on Thursday about the issue of Russian interference in the American Presidential elections. What Bush had said in English was that Vladimir Putin has “a chip on his shoulder … because the demise of the Soviet Union troubles him. Therefore, much of his moves [are] to regain Soviet hegemony,” as The Guardian reported.

In other words, MK had made a literal Russian translation of the English idiomatic expression “to have a chip on your shoulder”, meaning “to seem angry all the time because you think you have been treated unfairly or feel you are not as good as other people”, as the Cambridge online dictionary explains. The mistake was picked up on Twitter by Alexey Kovalev, a Russian blogger who writes about propaganda and disinformation.

The microchip implantation conspiracy theory

No doubt, MK’s mistranslation was unintentional. However, the effect of it was that George W. Bush has helped recall a couple of the more entertaining pieces of disinformation we have described on our website: For example, the claim from RT (Russia Today) that in the West, microchips are implanted under the skin of office workers to make them more submissive and passive; and the story from Sputnik about how the EU wants to control all payments, preferably by implanting microchips under the skin of citizens.

Further reading:

Three things you should know about RT and Sputnik

Translating Russian troops out of Ukraine


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