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Parents In Tatarstan Complain Of Extortion In Schools

KAZAN, Tatarstan -- The Kazan Human Rights Center has formally asked Tatarstan's Prosecutor-General's Office to investigate alleged extortion in the republic's schools, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Igor Sholokhov, who is head of the Kazan Human Rights Center and a member of the anticorruption council that is subordinate to the president's office, explained on October 4 that his center received 48 calls between September 1-10 on its "hot line" from parents complaining about extortion in more than 30 schools.

Sholokhov's group made its request on the eve of Teachers' Day, marked on October 5.

According to federal law, education is free in Russia. An official statement from the Russian Education Ministry in 1998 says that "it is forbidden to ask parents to pay extra money for cleaning or security purposes, or for special programs or textbooks."

There are "charity funds" in most Russian schools to which parents are welcome to donate money. But Sholokhov said that "those parents who complained about extortion said it had nothing to do with those funds."