A school in the Russian Far East is being investigated after parents alleged that local thugs were invited to lecture on the dangers of homosexuality to a hall full of teenage boys.
The lecture, which reportedly took place on January 22 in the village of Pervomayskoye, became public after one parent anonymously posted a lengthy account of it to the Russian online forum Pikabu.
According to the post, the school's former director, and now the village head, invited a group of men known in the area for engaging in criminal activity to speak at the school, and instructed teachers to assemble boys from grades five to seven in its main hall.
The men allegedly explained the codes of the criminal underworld and warned the kids what fate awaits those in jail who engage in sexual relations with other men. The boys were told to share nothing of the lecture with their parents.
"Why do they give bandits the right to corrupt our kids and raise for themselves a new generation of bandits?" read the hysterical post, which was shared thousands of times. "PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!"
In a follow-up post, the parent writes that village head Aleksandr Ukhabotin called a meeting at the school the following day with the director, a local police officer, and a number of parents and children. He explained that the men who’d been invited to speak had no ties to the criminal world, the post says, and asked parents not to "air the village's dirty laundry."
That same evening, the regional prosecutor’s office launched an investigation into the incident, publishing a statement describing a lecture delivered "in vulgar terms."
Ukhabotin, who served for 10 years as the school’s director and whose son is a pupil there, told the local news site Primamedia on January 23 that he organized the lecture in response to several incidents of sexual harassment among boys at the school, in a bid to educate them about the dangers of same-sex relations.
The men he invited were asked to have a "manly chat" with the kids after a conflict in which a group of schoolkids tried to harass a male fifth-grader and capture the scene on video.
"We began from the fact that God created a man and a woman," Ukhabotin said of the lecture. "Many countries advocate gay parades and nontraditional relations, but this is Russia, with its own traditions. Kids get away with a lot these days, and they’re influenced by the Internet, where they’re shown a lot of bad things."
Lectures of the kind delivered in Pervomayskoye have become a regular feature in Russia, where kids are routinely given talkings-to about the dangers of Western culture and the impermissibility of attending opposition protests. Far from refraining to air dirty laundry, the kids often broadcast live-streams of the lectures for the whole world to see.
But thugs, it seems, are rarely roped into this preemptive education campaign. And neither is the criminal underworld a regular feature -- unless, that is, role-playing is involved.
In November, prosecutors in Murmansk began looking into whether the regional Interior Ministry violated the law, after photos from a career fair of sorts organized by the ministry showed kids dressed up in prison jumpsuits. A post about the event on the Interior Ministry’s website was subsequently edited and the offending photos removed.