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Teachers call on colleagues not to take part in election fraud

Source: (info), 10/10/12 

· Electoral rights 

“There were a number of electoral violations in the last elections, responsibility for which to a great extent rests with the teacher members of the electoral commission. As a result, people have lost respect for all of us,” reads an open letter by Russian teachers addressed to their colleagues and those working for the electoral commission, which was posted on blogs and on the website of the Uchitel (Teacher) trade union in the run-up to the regional elections in Russia on 14 October 2012.

“At a time when teachers’ pay (especially in the provinces) is still disgracefully low, and the endless reforms of the education system threaten to strip the actual content of the education process of all meaning, it is vital that teachers are respected,” the letter stresses. “Respect and sympathy lead to solidarity and a desire to support us, and without solidarity and support from the whole of society and above all its active citizens, we will not be able to save our jobs or education as a whole,” the letter states.

“This support will become less likely if again some of us become implicated in electoral fraud,” the letter’s authors state. However, they stress that they know that “any attempt to defend one’s own opinion threatens administrative pressure,” therefore they promise “to launch a wide-reaching public campaign of solidarity with any teacher pressured into committing election fraud.”

According to, the authors of the open letter are calling on teachers subjected to any kind of pressure to contact the Uchitel trade union and the numerous independent civil election observer associations: the GOLOS association, the Citizen-Observer project and the Russian Union of Observers (SONAR). “You will not be alone! A country that does not respect its teachers will inexorably sink into ignorance. Only by sticking together will we be able to preserve the authority of our profession in Russian society!” the letter concludes.

The authors of the letter include Merited Teacher of Russia Evgenia Abelyuk, Deputy Chairman of the Uchitel trade union, history and social studies teacher Andrei Demidov, Russian language and literature teacher and winner of the national educational project 'Best Teachers of Russia' competition Alexander Zakurenko, mathematics teacher and winner of the Dynasty Foundation ‘Young Teacher’ competition Grigory Kolyutsky, higher-category teacher Leonid Perlov and other members of the teaching profession. The organisers of this campaign stress that the letter is open for other teachers to sign their name to.

At the first meeting of the Public Council under the Ministry of Education and Science on 30 August 2012 a member of the council, a bioinformatician, Deputy Director of the Institute for Information Transmission Problems at the Russian Academy of Science Mikhail Gelfand touched on this issue. In discussions about the problems of the Unified State Exam he said that “when teachers are forced to fix votes in an election, it is naïve to think that they will not help their students in the Unified State Exam.”