The local prosecutor’s office in the Russian region of Tatarstan has begun an investigation after children held a protest to complain about having no school nearby, poor infrastructure, and little transport accessibility.
Tatarstan is a Muslim-majority republic around 1,000km east of Moscow, and is Russia’s eighth-most-populated region.
In a video posted on Instagram, the kids were shown kneeling in the snow, forming the word SHKOLA (school) when viewed from above. The parents who organized the action are now the subject of an investigation.
According to Ruslan Galiev, a media spokesman for the Tatarstan general prosecutor, the regional authorities are aware of the infrastructure issues but “consider it unacceptable to involve children in such actions.”
The protesters come from two villages, Vishnevka and Privolny, both of which are private housing settlements on the outskirts of Kazan, the region’s largest city.
“The residents of the two settlements are driven to despair. They have no strength to fight the bureaucracy and the constant failure to fulfill the promises of the administration,” the description on the Instagram post reads.
According to the local newspaper InKazan, there are more than 1,000 preschool children and almost 1,200 schoolchildren living in the two villages. Some have been assigned to schools very far away, meaning they have to leave home at 5.30am. To fix the problem, local officials have promised to provide a bus, but residents say it won’t be enough to transport all students to the various schools.
Lilia Galimova, the head of the president of Tatarstan’s press service, commented on the protest, criticizing the children’s parents for risking their health to stage a demonstration, suggesting that kneeling in snow may be detrimental. She also noted that there are official ways to lodge such complaints.
“Get together at the negotiating table, identify the problem, and it can be resolved,” she said. “Children’s health should not be at stake.”
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