Current Magazine

Toy Protest in Russia: Fun and Games End After Police Crackdown

Posted on the 27 January 2012 by Periscope

Toy protest in Russia: Fun and games end after police crackdown

Will the Russians send in the Lego police to quell toy protest? Photo credit: 5th Luna, http://www.flickr.com/photos/5thluna

Why has a collection of tiny toys prompted Russian police to consult prosecutors?

Political protestors in Barnaul, a city in South Siberia, have found a rather unusual way to make their point after two unsanctioned demonstrations against alleged fraud in the December 2011 elections were dispersed by Barnaul police.

Since the authorities have refused to issue approval for opposition protests, placards denouncing the electoral violations have been shrunk to miniature size and placed in the tiny plastic hands of toy figurines, set up in public spaces. As The Guardian reported on Thursday, dozens of small dolls –teddy bears, Lego men, Kinder Surprise toys and South Park figurines – were arranged to mimic a protest, each holding signs bearing slogans such as “I’m for clean elections” and “A thief should sit in jail, not in the Kremlin”. The Independent reported one miniature placard reading “146%”, in reference to the southern region where state television inadvertently claimed a 146 percent turnout at a recent election.

Check out photos from the protest here.

But even children’s toys can’t escape the wrath of the Russian police – authorities are now trying to figure out a way to prosecute the plastic protest’s organisers.

“The authorities’ attempt to limit citizens’ rights to express their position has become absurd,” said Lyudmila Alexandrova, a 26-year-old graduate student and protest organiser. “We wanted to hyperbolise this attempt and show the absurdity and farce of officials’ struggle with their own people.”

The police are not amused.  For the authorities concerned, this was no laughing matter. According to The Guardian, police carefully examined the placards and took note of their messages. “Political opposition forces are using new technologies to carry out public events – using toys with placards at mini-protests,” Andrei Mulintsev, the city’s deputy police chief, said at a press conference this week, according to local media. “In our opinion, this is still an unsanctioned public event.” Women’s website Jezebel hoped that “he also repeated this in a teeny-weeny voice so the dolls could understand.”

“While the authorities restrict our constitutional rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, the rights of toys have so far been untouched,” one of the protest organizers, 30-year-old IT specialist Andrei Teslenko, wrote in a post on Russia’s most popular social network Vkontakte.

They are definitely not amused, but not sure what to do about it.  The events, labelled “nano-meetings” by organisers, were not approved by authorities; the organisers were also present – arguably making them demonstrations. “Somebody has brought the toys there and therefore expressed his opinion in such a way,” said Mulintsev. However, “nano-meetings” do not feature in the federal legislation regarding public events, so the police, unsure of how to proceed, have asked prosecutors to investigate the legality of the protest.

The prosecutors are also not amused and very sure what to do.  Prosecutor Sergei Kirei told RIA Novosti, the Russian News and Information Agency, that he didn’t understand why police had asked them: “I believe there are certainly grounds to initiate administrative cases.” Given that the toys were “agitation material”, Kirei believed the gathering was “a picket”. “People are not stupid,” he went on. “The figurines did not come there by themselves. They did not write the placards on their own. They have not invited anyone in social networks to join the public event.” If found guilty organisers could face fines of up to $33 or arrest for up to 15 days.

 


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Torturing America

    Some things are just wrong. Absolutely, and always. Surely torture is one of them. That it’s even necessary to say this, in America, in the 21st century, seems... Read more

    The 12 December 2014 by   Fsrcoin
    CULTURE, POLITICS, SOCIETY
  • Green Party Exposes The Agenda Of New GOP Congress

    As you know by now (unless you've been living in a cave somewhere with no media access), the failure of Americans to turn out to vote last November has allowed... Read more

    The 12 December 2014 by   Jobsanger
    POLITICS, SOCIETY
  • Is Putin a Rightwinger?

    People keep coming here and asking me how I could possibly support Putin as I am a Leftie. However, the KPRF, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation,... Read more

    The 11 December 2014 by   Calvinthedog
    POLITICS, SOCIETY
  • Another View of Putin

    Here is another view of Putin coming from those who oppose him. I will say that most of what is written here is simply true. The part that I disagree with is... Read more

    The 11 December 2014 by   Calvinthedog
    POLITICS, SOCIETY
  • Why the Propaganda War Against Putin?

    I’ll tell you why. He is building a solid economy in Russia and other large regions of the world that will expose the dollar to fairness and competition. The... Read more

    The 08 December 2014 by   Calvinthedog
    POLITICS, SOCIETY
  • Vladimir Putin: "Crimea is for Russians What Temple Mount is for Jews" (video)

    Russian president Vladimir Putin had an interesting comment the other day during his "state of the union" address in which he addressed the issue of Russia's... Read more

    The 07 December 2014 by   Gldmeier
    RELIGION, SOCIETY, SPIRITUALITY
  • Why Are Gas Prices Falling?

    This is about as good of an explanation as you are going to get anywhere. Every single thing this guys is true. And you will never hear any of this from any... Read more

    The 07 December 2014 by   Calvinthedog
    POLITICS, SOCIETY

Add a comment