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UPDATED: Russian Schoolgirl Teaches Instructor, Media A Lesson


An image from the viral video purporting to show a schoolgirl kicking an abusive teacher
An image from the viral video purporting to show a schoolgirl kicking an abusive teacher
The Independent" has reposted a shocker of a video that highlights the problem of bullying by Russian teachers, even toward the youngest of students.

Or does it?

"Hey teacher, leave them kids alone: Aggressive teacher gets kicked in the groin by humiliated little girl," the "Indy" says of the embedded video at the heart of its story, which was the second-most-viewed article on as of September 11.

In it, a pig-tailed pupil is berated in front of the chalkboard and her peers by a caustic and increasingly abusive teacher.

The whole thing looks like it's shot on a mobile phone, viewed from about the third row as the teacher goes off the rails during an English lesson on personal pronouns.

Prodded at one too many times, the young girl finally strikes back, delivering poetic justice in the form of a kick to the teacher's crotch.

[UPDATE: The original publisher of that video has removed it or blocked it on YouTube. The YouTube video that appears below was functioning on September 12.]

"The Independent" explains that "Russian speakers commenting on the video say that the teacher's rant seems to be based on little more than the fact the girl could not understand the work on the board."

Like many places, Russia has its share of endemic bullying. In the military. At police stations. And yes, at school. But this isn't one of those instances.

Instead, it's a cautionary tale for Western journalists in credulity (a word that's cropping up a lot these days, between the kerfuffle over the Azerbaijani ax-murderer's pardon and 9/11 conspiracy theories). Because the schoolgirl-as-avenging-angel video is not a story.

There are warning signs. The steady camera work of the little girl's presumed "classmate," for instance, who would be about 8 years old him/herself. Another classmate sticking his tongue out right on cue. The girl aiming for the teacher's crotch, rather than going straight for the shins.

And sure enough, the video turns out to be a fiendishly well-distributed promotion for a new Russian cable and satellite TV channel aimed at kids. It's called simply "Ю," the letter "U" in Cyrillic. The slogan ("Ю - ЭТО ТЫ") is a play on English and Russian: "U - That's You." (You is the word that the terrifying teacher is trying -- literally and figuratively -- to drill into the hapless little girl's head in the video.)

Another promotional video is more like what you'd expect from a station aimed at families:

Channel U's launch is scheduled for September 16.

And hats off to the PR agency behind the ruse.

But the next time a Russian viral video comes across someone's desk at "The Independent," editors might want to consult that upstart newspaper's Russian owner, oligarch Aleksandr Lebedev, whose family bought "The Independent" in 2010.

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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