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Russia toy protest goes on despite government ban

A banned toy protest was among several demonstrations staged across Russia Sunday ahead of March’s presidential election.
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Police officers detain an activist in front of the Russian Central Election Commission headquarters in Moscow on Feb. 14, 2012, as a group attempted to hold an unauthorized protest. (Andrey Smirnov/AFP/Getty Images)

A government ban couldn’t stop toy protestors in the Siberian city of Barnaul from demonstrating against presidential candidate Vladimir Putin ahead of Russian elections scheduled for next month.

Protesting plastic elephants, tigers and Legos appeared in the snow in the Barnaul's central square, Sunday, Reuters reported.

Russian officials had previously denied people’s requests for permission to hold the rally, saying the toys didn’t have the right to protest because they weren’t Russian citizens.

More from GlobalPost: Russian officials ban toy “demonstrators” from protesting because they’re not citizens

"Our authorities have no understanding of free speech," Sergei Mameyev, who represents a group called Decembrists of Barnaul told Reuters.

Sunday’s toy protest wasn’t Russia’s first. Late last year, demonstrators in the northern Russian town of Apatity staged a protest with toys after they couldn’t get permission to hold a rally. The toys held signs calling for honesty from politicians and fair elections, RT reported.

Toy protesters made their debut in Barnaul at a demonstration earlier this year.

“Baffled police did not know what to do with the toys,” the Guardian reported. “After taking photographs and video of the plastic offenders, they asked prosecutors to investigate its legality,” it said.

Elsewhere in Russia Sunday, Reuters reported hundreds of motorists drove through the streets of Moscow protesting against Putin just hours after a rally of Putin supporters.

"There are a lot of people who do not agree with the current authorities," one protester told Reuters. "We've come out to show ... that we don't agree (with the situation) and want other people to know how many of us there are."

The rally was among many the anti-Putin movement in Russia have held since a disputed election in December gave Putin’s United Russia party a slim majority in parliament.

More from GlobalPost: Russia: Rival pro-, anti-Putin rallies bring out thousands in Moscow

Putin is running for what would become his third term as Russia’s president. Russian law prohibits presidents from serving more than two consecutive terms. Since Putin has been prime minister for nearly four years, he is now eligible to run for the presidency again. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/russia-toy-protest-on-despite-government-ban

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