A new television series depicting the harsh reality of school life in modern Russia has sparked heated public debate, with some people and politicians demanding the creators be punished.
On Monday, nationwide Channel One launched School, a 60-part fictional series by young director Valeria Gai Germanika that was shot in a real Moscow school and includes large amounts of documentary-type footage.
Producers described School, showing the seamy side of the life of schoolchildren openly smoking and drinking beer, harassing their classmates and snubbing teachers, as "a radical series about teenagers."
The educational system, once the pride of the Soviet Union, has fallen into decay since the Communist empire collapsed in 1991. President Dmitry Medvedev, who took office in 2008, has made reviving quality schooling one of his priorities.
State-controlled Channel One said in a statement that School was seeking to help Medvedev, who has proclaimed 2010 the Year of the Teacher, rather than challenge his plans.
"We do not think the Year of the Teacher ... is a pretext for concealing or disguising problems in schools, but a reason to understand them," it said.
Some politicians are not convinced and have called for heads to roll over the series.
"I have watched the first episodes and confirmed this is a preplanned subversion of our children and youth," Communist deputy Vladislav Yurchik told the State Duma lower house of parliament, which opened its spring session on Wednesday.
He urged those responsible be punished for what he described as making contemporary youths "a morally crippled generation."
Reaction to the first two episodes on a teachers' online forum ranged from "shocking and outrageous" and "a blow to the entire education system" to "sad and exaggerated."
"I am shocked at the two episodes I have seen, at how schoolchildren behave and how they treat teachers... My God! Children at our school are angels," a teacher of English from south Russia's Rostov Region wrote.
MOSCOW, January 13 (RIA Novosti)