Russian authorities are laying blame on local officials for the death of a 14-year-old girl who media reports said apparently committed suicide after being bullied at school and writing to President Vladimir Putin to seek help for her financially strapped family.
The Investigative Committee branch in the Smolensk region issued a statement late on November 20, following news reports about a girl in the town of Safonovo who was found dead on November 18.
Investigators have found evidence of criminal negligence in the actions of officials with agencies "that should monitor and provide support to families in difficult life situations," the statement said.
Warning that a criminal investigation on suspicion of negligence has been opened, it said "it is already clear to investigators that officials who had an obligation to delve into the child's problems did not take sufficient measures to avert the tragedy."
The statement said that the girl lived with her older sister and their single mother, a hospital worker, and that the family was in a "difficult financial situation" and had sought help from the local authorities.
It also said the girl, an eighth-grader who was legally handicapped, was bullied at school as a result of what media reports said were problems with her eyesight.
The investigative agency's statement did not mention what media reports said was a letter the girl had written to Putin seeking financial help for her family.
Media reports said that the girl’s mother was reprimanded at work for her daughter’s letter.
It was not clear whether the purported letter reached Putin, who is often portrayed by the Kremlin as a leader attentive to the needs of ordinary Russians and has sometimes intervened to settle local disputes or aid a single citizen or family.