[Update: I incorrectly claimed that protests have contested President Vladimir Putin's reelection when in fact they contest the parliamentary election results. Change made below.]
Political activism has reached new heights (well, technically new lows) in Russia: Colorful little plastic geegaws have entered the arena of conflict.
Russian authorities banned public demonstrations by groups of dolls, action figures, and toys, with special disdain for those not made in Russia. The ban was prompted by the appearance in Barnaul of dozens of toys holding banners that questioned the Russian status quo last month in response to controversies over accusations of fraud in the recent parliamentary elections. According to Andrei Lyapunov, a spokesman for the Siberian city of Barnaul, quoted in the Guardian:
"Toys, especially imported toys, are not only not citizens of Russia but they are not even people."
A recent petition to hold another protest was rejected, but this isn't nearly the end of it, the Guardian reports:
The response to the original ban is typical of the new wave of demonstrations in Russia characterised by witty banners and a degree of absurdist humour. After a mass Moscow rally in December, the protest was re-enacted with Lego models and posted on YouTube within days. Toy rallies have caught on and taken place in four other Russian towns in the wake of the Barnaul protest.
And if you see a tiny puff of smoke, be careful, there may have been a toy suicide bombing.