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    Russian state TV quietly axes controversial school drama

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    A Russian television series that dramatized the lives of Moscow schoolchildren has been quietly dropped from state Channel One after a storm of public protest.

    A Russian television series that dramatized the lives of Moscow schoolchildren has been quietly dropped from state Channel One after a storm of public protest.

    The program schedule for the week of February 15-21, released on Monday, does not include any episodes of School, which was billed as "a radical series about teenagers."

    Channel One confirmed that the series would not be aired next week but declined to comment further.

    The 60-part fictional series by young director Valeria Gai Germanika was shot in a real Moscow school and includes large amounts of documentary-type footage. Seventeen episodes have been broadcast since it was launched on January 11.

    The series showed schoolchildren openly smoking and drinking beer, harassing their classmates and snubbing teachers, and even having sex, but the state-controlled channel denied in January that it undermined President Dmitry Medvedev's aims to improve education, which included making 2010 the Year of the Teacher.

    Much of the protests against the show came from teachers, with accusations that Germanika was discrediting the profession.

    Russia's 2008 teacher of the year, Anna Mekhed, said she supported the decision to remove the series from the schedule.

    "I do not understand why it was shown: I didn't see any content, any plot, or any camerawork," the math teacher told RIA Novosti, adding that she had seen only one episode and had no desire to see any more.

    The president's commissioner for children's rights said he did not know why the series had been dropped. Pavel Astakhov had supported the series, arguing that it was useful for teenagers to see themselves, and rejecting claims that the show was an instruction manual for bad behavior.

    Producer Igor Tolstunov told RIA Novosti that he had learned about the show's cancelation from journalists, and said it was "not his decision, nor the director's."

    Germanika had reportedly been set to quit the project, complaining that scenes had been cut, before the Channel One press service announced that the late-night version would contain scenes not broadcast in the early-evening showing.

    MOSCOW, February 8 (RIA Novosti)

     

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