President Vladimir Putin has spoken out against the wearing of head scarves in Russian schools.
In his first public comment about the highly sensitive issue, Putin's statement on October 18 followed a recent incident in Russia's southern Stavropol region where a school principal forbade Muslim girls from donning head scarves in school.
The principal said later that she was threatened after the girls' parents protested the move.
Asked to comment on the issue, Putin said he was against head scarves in schools because Russia is a secular state and must create equal conditions for all its citizens.
An estimated 20 million of Russia's 143 million citizens are Muslims.
Muslims make up the majority of the population in many Russian regions -- including the North Caucasus.
Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS and AP