Activists in the Siberian city of Barnaul tried to get around opposition from local officials to pro-democracy/pro-reform political protests by recreating a political protest in miniature by setting up a collection of toy figurines – Lego men and the like – holding tiny political slogans on a streetside snowbank. Some passersby were amused by the toy rally, the Barnaul police were not. The city's deputy police chief went so far as to say at a press conference, as reported by local media in Barnaul: “in our opinion, this is still an unsanctioned public event.” Police also reportedly jotted down the slogans carried by the Lego men and told the rally's human organizers that they would need to “rent” the pile of snow that served as a stage from the city. A human spokeswoman for the toy rally said that they deliberately decided to stage an absurd protest to illustrate the ridiculousness of the official position against political rallies in Russia, it was nice then of the police in Barnaul to oblige them.
The Guardian reports that in December, the first political protest against the widespread belief that the December 4 parliamentary elections had been rigged in favor of Vladimir Putin's United Russia party drew nearly 2,000 people in Barnaul, a rather large number for a city of only 600,000 located in Siberia in the middle of winter. Activists are planning another round of political rallies across Russia this Saturday to protest the upcoming presidential elections, which Putin is expected to win. Officials in Moscow have granted a permit for humans to march this time, with organizers expecting 50,000 people to attend.