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Russian Teacher Says Hounded Out Of School, Called 'Prostitute' Over Online Photograph

Tatyana Kuvshinnikova

BARNAUL, Russia -- A Russian schoolteacher who says she was hounded from her job and likened to a prostitute after posting a photograph of herself in a thigh-high dress is getting some support from local officials.

Tatyana Kuvshinnikova told RFE/RL on March 25 that she quit earlier after facing fierce criticism from the director and other staff at her public school in Barnaul, capital of the Altai region.

She said she was told that "only prostitutes get themselves photographed dressed like that -- high heels, dress above the knees, everything on display."

Kuvshinnikova, who taught Russian language and literature to students in the middle grades, said she was told that she was a "stain" on the school's reputation and that "it's not surprising the boys are in love -- this is close to pedophilia."

Her problems began after she posted a photograph on the social network VKontakte that shows her on exercise bars in a snowy park in high-heel shoes and a dress she wore for New Year's celebrations. She said she was supported by many parents of her pupils but was ostracized by staff members.

Kuvshinnikova, 38, enjoys swimming in the winter, and the photograph is one of several she has posted that show her braving the cold weather and icy water.

The regional education minister, Maksim Kostenko, voiced support for Kuvshinnikova and said he had invited her to meet and discuss employment options.

"I personally see nothing wrong in the pictures the teacher posted on her social networks," Kostenko said on March 25. He praised her for her winter-sports achievements and said Russian schoolchildren needed role models with healthy lifestyles.

Kuvshinnikova told RFE/RL that she no longer wanted to work at a regular school and planned to teach at an art school.