by AIDAN RADNEDGE
Metro – UK
February 9, 2009
Pigs were used by George Orwell to satirise Stalin’s Soviet state in Animal Farm – but guinea pigs are just as controversial in modern Russia.
A 13-year-old girl has felt the wrath of the Kremlin for having the audacity to ask the Russian president for a new pet. Nastya Ivliyeva wrote to Dmitry Medvedev’s website asking for a guinea pig to go with her existing one.
As soon as local officials found out about the request they went to the girl’s school where she was called to the headmaster’s office and ticked off so badly that she burst into tears.
They then summoned Nastya’s parents to condemn them for bringing up a brazen child who would waste the president’s time on such trifling matters. Nastya was even forced to write a letter retracting her request.
But attitudes shifted when her parents complained to the president about the officials’ behaviour and a newspaper publicised the plight of the girl from Kalitvensky in southern Russia.
The next day, officials called again – but this time to hand over two guinea pigs and a cage.
The episode marked a ‘complete failure by the authorities to understand real people and their problems’, said youth committee leader Sergei Chyuev.
Last year, Siberian girl Dasha Varfolomeeva, nine, used a TV show to ask leader Vladimir Putin for a dress and a trip to Moscow. She got both.