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Russian Schoolchildren to Wear 'Ruling Party' ID Tags
2004 10 05

Moscow schoolchildren will soon receive ID cards bearing a logo of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. Activists of the “ruling party” are convinced that the move will help make city schools safer. United Russia’s political rivals have already denounced the idea.

On Tuesday United Russia activists announced their plans to issue the identity cards for pupils of Moscow school No.1297 in a move they believe will help enhance security in classrooms as well as control school attendance.

Every pupil and teacher will receive a plastic card with his or her photo and important personal data. United Russia’s symbol — a walking bear against the backdrop of the Russian flag — and the address of the party headquarters in Moscow will be printed on the reverse side of the card.

Opposition parties denounced United Russia’s project as undemocratic and aimed at establishing total control over schoolchildren.

“Yabloko’s attitude towards United Russia’s attempts to print its logo on school ID cards is downright negative,” Ilya Yashin, leader of Yabloko’s youth organization told Ekho Moskvy radio station. “We have serious misgiving that this will evolve into a serious propaganda campaign by the party of power, and we believe such measures are dangerous and wrong,” he added.

The youth wing of the Rodina (Motherland) bloc, too, strongly disapproved of United Russia’s project. “All that will end with total control,” Oleg Bondarenko of Rodina’s youth organization told Ekho.

Moscow schools need improved security systems, but so far the city government does not have the necessary funds. Nevertheless, such a situation should not be used by political parties for entering city schools, a deputy of the Moscow legislature, the city duma, Yevgeny Bunimovich said.

The authorities ordered schools across Russia to tighten security in the wake of the September terrorist attack in Beslan, North Ossetia, where over 300 people including many children were killed after Chechen militants raided the school.

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