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Chelyabinsk Demonstrators Protest Military Transport School Closure

The school in Chelyabinsk

The school in Chelyabinsk

CHELYABINSK, Russia -- Some 250 protesters gathered today in the center of the Russian city of Chelyabinsk to challenge a Defense Ministry decision to close a local military transport school, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The demonstrators collected signatures to a petition addressed to Chelyabinsk Oblast Governor Mikhail Yurevich and a letter to Russia's prosecutor-general urging them to intervene.

One of the organizers of the demonstration, retired Colonel Nikolai Ivanov, told RFE/RL that he has sent a letter to President Dmitry Medvedev asking him to help annul the decision to close the school.

Ivanov said the Defense Ministry violated the rights of the school's students and teachers in deciding to close the institution.

Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov signed the order to shut down the school on July 20. The process of closure is to be completed by October 1.

The school's students have been transferred to the Omsk Military Tank Institute in western Siberia. Some of the teaching staff have been transferred there too, but most of the teachers who lost their jobs are still trying to find alternative employment in Chelyabinsk.