African-American Barbie sparks calls for regulations on dolls
A new member of Russia’s parliament has called for tougher standards to be imposed on what toys the country’s kids are playing with in educational settings after publicly expressing outrage at an African-American Barbie doll.
Speaking to local media outlet Znak on Tuesday, Maria Butina said that she has been working on the issue for a long time. Drawing on her experiences touring kindergartens in Kirov, several hundred kilometers northeast of Moscow, she claimed that parents were also concerned about what toys their children play with.
While she stopped short of putting forward any concrete proposals, she vowed to work with the country’s Ministry of Education, arguing that “this is a national issue, and there can be no opponents.”
“As a woman and a teacher by training, I understand that the future of our children depends on their formation in the early years of life,” she claimed.
Just the day before the interview, the Siberian native took to her Telegram to slam what she said was a lack of standards on educational toys in kindergartens across Russia. Alongside the post, she uploaded a photo of two dolls: the first, made in a local factory in Kirov, the other a “Barbie” doll with black skin sporting a modern lilac hairstyle and large gold earrings.
“As if in a couple of years it would turn out that our children grew up on completely different dolls and take example from them,” she wrote.
Butina, who became a member of the country’s State Duma for the Kirov region in October, spent over a year behind bars in the US on charges of being an unregistered Russian lobbyist after being detained by the FBI in July 2018. The American media were quick to label her a spy and also reported that she allegedly traded sex for political favors.
The Russian gun activist came to the US on a student visa in 2016 and was actively involved in the National Rifle Association (NRA) with a stated goal of expanding arms laws back home. Butina said that she was essentially innocent, but caught up in anti-Russian witch hunts, according to her lawyer.
After spending months in prison, as well as time in solitary confinement, Butina entered a plea deal, as part of which she was required to admit to conspiracy to act as “an agent of a foreign government” without proper registration, and was ultimately extradited back to Russia. After returning home, she became a host for RT’s Russian-language service.