(Photo above: RFE-RL; below, Ivan Krupchik.)
Authorities in Russia are investigating the legality of a "doll demonstration" demanding "clean elections" in the Siberian city of Barnaul, and looking for the humans responsible.
Russian news agency RIA Novosti reports that Russia's police "[arrest] anyone, young or old, who takes part in an "unsanctioned" opposition rally"—so, some citizens in Barnaul created a protest tableau composed of dolls, instead.
Lego minifigs, South Park ("Team America"?) characters, stuffed dollies, Shreks, gnomes, elves, and Wall-e robots carrying protest placards were placed on an icy ledge in the town's center on January 7 and 14. This act followed police crackdowns on two protests by normal-sized people back in December. The focus of all the protests, large and small? Political corruption, and the results of Russia's parliamentary elections.
Most of the figurines held up little signs affixed to toothpicks with satirical messages on them, such as "146%", in reference to a southern region where state television inadvertently reported a 146 per cent turnout in recent elections. Other toys held caricatures of the Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, and President Dmitry Medvedev.
The victory of Mr Putin's United Russia Party in last month's parliamentary polls, amid allegations of fraud, brought tens of thousands of protesters onto Moscow's streets. The government seemed to realise it could not take the usual repressive action against the demonstrators in the capital, but in Barnaul authorities "did everything possible" to block protests, Andrei Teslenko, one of the organisers, said.
That's when the activists set up the toy protests. "The authorities are blocking our constitutional rights to peaceful protests, but they haven't yet got as far as limiting the rights of toys," he said.
Photographer Ivan Krupchik has an extensive series of photos up on his LiveJournal (including the Wall-e shot above, and the LEGO detail below in this post).
More: MSNBC News, Radio Free Europe,Independent (UK), UK Guardian.
(thanks, Martin Hodgson)