Reports are coming in from Kazakhstan on a crackdown on the sale of children’s toys ahead of the protests planned by opposition groups for Saturday, 25 February. Kazaxia tried to go to the Childrens’ World (Detsky Mir) store in downtown Almaty but found the doors firmly closed on a recent Thursday evening.
The authorities are worried that the toys might fall into the wrong hands after toy demos in Barnaul, Russia and Minsk, Belarus. Observers say that unsanctioned copycat demos, involving toys holding placards showing anti-government slogans, could break out in Kazakhstan unless steps are taken to restrict the sale of toys.
It is likely that Astana will follow Russia’s lead and ban toy rallies as toys are not considered to be citizens of Kazakhstan
“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.
When Kazaxia called Detsky Mir to ask for comment on whether they had been told to ban toy sales to those over the age of 13, no-one answered the phone.
With Kazakhstan’s jails already overfilled with opposition figures, imprisoned for upholding their constitutional right to free assembly (via unsanctioned rallies), Astana will be keen not to see over-aged toy purchasers joining them.