Russian parents complain about singing anthem in school

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MOSCOW, January 27 (RIA Novosti) - Parents of schoolchildren from the town of Lobnya some 27 km (16 miles) north of Moscow have complained about children being made to sing the national anthem in school, Russian media reported on Tuesday.

According to a parent, whose name has not been disclosed, each Monday children at Lobnya's school number 5 have to arrive some 15 minutes earlier and sing the national anthem together with teachers. Those who arrive late have to wait outside and face a reprimand.

"The school's administration went too far with its patriotic values," the Ekho Moskvy radio station quoted a parent as saying, adding that if the children hear the anthem anywhere else they suddenly "jump up and start singing like zombies."

The school's headmaster, Vladimir Zinovyev, said the complaint was filed by a mother of a first-year pupil.

"This is only the opinion of a woman, who preferred to stay anonymous," he said refusing to give any further comments.

The education ministry of the Moscow Region admitted sending recommendations to local schools to teach patriotic values and state symbols in 2003, but said they should not be included in the educational program.

Russian education legislation allows schools to develop their compulsory education programs on their own.

"If it was authorized by a legitimate body and was agreed with the school's administration, the matter would be settled. No one has the right to interfere in it. This does not contradict the Russian Constitution and any existing laws," the head of Russia's education policy institute, Alexander Adamsky said, adding that singing the national anthem in schools was "absolutely normal."

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