Toy nationalism the polity that is Russia

There hadn’t been many – indeed any – rallies like it before in Russia. Last month saw dozens of toys, from teddy bears to Lego figurines, standing out in the snow of a Siberian city with banners complaining about corruption and electoral malpractice.

At the time, Russian authorities in Barnaul declared the protest “an unsanctioned public event”.

Now a petition to hold another protest featuring 100 Kinder Surprise toys, 100 Lego people, 20 model soldiers, 15 soft toys and 10 toy cars has been rejected because the toys have been deemed not to be “citizens of Russia”.

“As you understand, toys, especially imported toys, are not only not citizens of Russia but they are not even people,” Andrei Lyapunov, a spokesman for Barnaul, told local media.

The story is here and for the pointer I thank Michelle Dawson.


There is a running joke in Russia now that Lego should ceize the opportunity and sell some sizeable force of toy riot police and prison trucks to the government.

The government should bring in a bunch of Barbie dolls to work with the police to infiltrate the protestors and "work on" the male toys.

Once you've lost the toys, your legitimacy can't be far behind.

Given that Kinder Surprise eggs are evidently illegal in the US and are regularly seized at the border (, Russia is not the only country that sees them as a threat.

Effigy figures, dolls or puppets have a long tradition of use in political speech. Puppets have regularly been banned or removed from protests (and often destroyed by police) throughout the US, most recently in the context of globalization protests, and there is a long international prehistory of government censorship of puppet protests, for example in late 18th century Saxony and in France under Napoleon III,.

In the U.S., toys incorporate in Delaware and then organize a PAC.

Three of the toys have been imprisoned, two were shot by authorities in questionable circumstances, one died of "cancer," four have gone missing and the rest now think Putin is a wonderful leader, really really great.

In the US, we shoot them in the head and then send the family the bill for the rubber band.

Speaking of, is it just me or is there a correlation with the shittier the country the more over-the-top the totalitarians? It's like a Kahnemann/Cialdini thing: "We must be holding onto something great otherwise we wouldn't be acting so ridiculous!"

Social capital?

Well, we all know Putin is a big fan of puppets...

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