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Сonspiracy theories How conspiracy theorists explain events in Ukraine and the world: “CIA drug dealers”

Propagandists use various conspiracy theories to discredit the Ukrainian government and its foreign partners. In this case, it is about the “CIA drug dealer” theory. Accusations and conspiracy theories about the involvement of American intelligence in the drug trade have been circulating for decades in the context of historical events and the confidentiality of the CIA's activities.

Some of the allegations stem from the CIA's involvement in covert operations during the Cold War, particularly in Southeast Asia and Latin America. For example, during the Vietnam War, there were reports of opium trafficking by CIA-backed guerrilla groups in the Golden Triangle region.

One of the most famous cases fueling these conspiracy theories is the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s. It involved secret arms sales to Iran (despite the embargo) to finance Nicaraguan rebels known as the Contras. Conspiracy theorists claim that the drug trade was allegedly used to finance these operations, although official investigations have found no direct evidence of CIA involvement in drug smuggling.

Journalist Harry Webb's 1996 San Jose Mercury News investigation, “Dark Alliance”,  revived interest in allegations of CIA drug trafficking. Webb claimed that the CIA-backed Contras were trafficking cocaine into the United States illegally, contributing to the cocaine epidemic. However, subsequent investigations and analysis contradicted some of his claims. While some investigations have acknowledged CIA involvement with individuals and groups involved in drug smuggling, they have generally concluded that there is no systemic CIA collusion in drug smuggling.

Consequently, although allegations of drug smuggling have been the subject of intense investigation, concrete evidence to support these allegations has not yet emerged. However, the continued existence of these conspiracy theories highlights broader questions about transparency, accountability and public trust in government institutions.

Russian propagandists use this conspiracy theory to promote the impression that Ukrainians are a nation of drug addicts. They say that they also participated in the Revolutions under the influence of drugs. Let us recall, for example, the “pricked oranges” that supposedly created a feeling of euphoria during the Orange Revolution “orchestrated by the collective West” and the “State Department cookies” in 2014. Propagandists are also spreading the message that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are supposedly also fighting drug addiction, and USAID (an American local assistance organization) supplies them with whole batches of drugs. They also want to toughen the message against the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi, created by Ukrainian political strategists in 2019. Now the Russians claim that he is allegedly a drug addict, and the CIA supplies him with drugs. Russians use different methods to spread this message: from fake covers and animated series to fake comments from stars on this matter.

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