07/14/2021, 08.56
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Nizhny Novgorod headmistress dismissed for refusing to inform on Naval'nyj students

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Elena Moiseeva was supposed to hand over lists of those who attended meetings in support of Putin's main opponent. A public campaign for her reinstatement launched. In many other Russian schools, headmasters have bowed to the will of the regime.


Moscow (AsiaNews) - Outrage is building in Russia over the dismissal of 46-year-old Elena Moiseeva, headmistress of public school No. 24 in Nizhny Novgorod, the country's third largest city, 500 km from the capital. The local authorities did not disclose the reasons for her dismissal, but everyone knows that it was Moiseeva's refusal to hand over lists of students who had participated in meetings in support of the imprisoned opponent Aleksej Naval'nyj.

Moiseeva has always said she wanted to defend the political and religious neutrality of school no. 24, a generic compulsory school, but very advanced in its teaching practices. By her own will, teachers are forbidden to take part in political associations and movements. Her colleagues have started a collection of signatures in defence of the headmistress, which has already reached more than 2,500 signatures.

On 30 June, at the final celebration of the school year, Moiseeva said goodbye to her beloved students, quoting a song by a well-known Russian pop group, Nautilius Pompilius: 'The air supports only those / who believe in themselves, / the wind blows only / where he who believes in himself commands'. The teacher advised all the children to read good books, listen to good music, watch good films and make friends.

A few days earlier, three officials from the municipal education department had entered her office and read her a dismissal order. The authorities took the measure on the basis of Article 278 of the Labour Code, which provides for the termination of the contract without explanation. Moiseeva had been teaching for 15 years at the school in the Sovetsky district of the city located on the confluence of the Volga and Oka rivers, in what she calls "the commitment of a lifetime".

Her first reaction was one of "liberation": "I'll tell you frankly, being a school headmistress in today's Russia is the work of slaves on galleys. I have never complained, because I was responsible for all the children and teachers, but now I have been freed from the chains".

Moiseeva had been seeing a psychotherapist for a year: "I could see that things were getting more and more difficult". At first, the teacher tried to keep the news of her dismissal under wraps, but it soon spread through the online chat of the city's school directors, sparking a large movement of support for her. Now Elena is determined to go to court to be reinstated in her beloved job: 'A girl from school wrote to me quoting a song, "Be strong, samurai!", and after a liberating cry I decided not to give up.

The decision to sack the teacher was quite impulsive, without waiting for the summer holidays, when Russian schools are in full swing to organise the next school year and accept new enrolments. The protests against the repressive measure were then joined by parents and the entire city community, with resonance throughout the country. Moiseeva herself has always said she is against street protests by navalnists: "These are not suitable things for children, I am absolutely convinced of it, the risk of manipulation is too great.

In many other Russian schools, the headmasters have bowed to the will of the authorities, releasing data on students who are 'politically engaged' in opposition to power. The participation of young people in the upcoming elections is a factor of great concern to the Putin regime, which is increasingly at risk of losing popularity and consensus in the years to come.

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