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Teachers In Ukraine Complain Of Pressure From Ruling Party

KHARKIV, Ukraine -- Teachers in Ukraine's eastern city of Kharkiv complain that the ruling Party of Regions is putting pressure on them, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Ukrainian-language teacher Larysa Kokhan told RFE/RL that she voluntarily resigned from the position of a secondary-school deputy principal due to political pressure. Kokhan belongs to an opposition party. She said that many of her colleagues were afraid to refuse requests by Party of Regions officials to join election commissions.

Local elections in Ukraine are scheduled for October 31.

A secondary-school director said on condition of anonymity that it was not possible for anyone who is not a member of the Party of Regions to "be a school director or deputy director in the Kharkiv region."

Kharkiv Oblast Education Department head Roman Shapoval said such complaints were baseless. "This is impossible because we have freedom of choice now," he said.

Meanwhile, some parents of Kharkiv students complain that the Party of Regions has started using secondary schools for its election campaign. Natalya Zarudna said that large pictures of the Party of Regions candidate, acting Kharkiv Mayor Hennadiy Kernes, were displayed in local schools.

Local education officials deny that campaigning in schools is taking place.