Chechen schoolchildren given “pre-election holiday”
By Umalt Chadayev
CHECHNYA, November 23 – On November 22, Chechen schoolchildren were given a two-week holiday. The measure was motivated by the necessity of guaranteeing the children’s safety until the December 2 elections for the State Duma and the referendum on the Chechen constitution are over.
A 35-year-old inhabitant of Grozny, Amina Bekmuradova, told Prague Watchdog’s correspondent that the previous day her son had returned from school and said that lessons had been cancelled until December 3. “All the children have been given an extra holiday,” she added. “Our children lag far behind their contemporaries in other Russian regions, as there have been two wars here, and lessons are constantly being cancelled in the schools for various reasons.”
Another resident, 52-year-old Sultan Adayev, exclaimed indignantly, “I don’t know why is it necessary for polling booths to be set up in schools of all places? Our children are missing two weeks of school because of this. What are the authorities thinking of, I’ve really no idea.” He also wondered whether it was really impossible to solve the question of the elections without hampering the educational process. "How could the children study normally if there studies were constantly being interrupted?"
At the Republic’s Ministry of the Interior it was announced that from November 12 onwards the forces of the Interior Ministry were being put on a higher level of mobilisation and all polling districts on the republic’s territory placed under round-the-clock protection. A member of the Chechen law enforcement agencies said that the majority of polling stations were located in school buildings, as these were large places. “Naturally, the suspension of schooling is first and foremost connected with the desire to guarantee the safety of the children. It can’t be ruled out that the rebels may try to carry out a terrorist raid on the eve of the elections in order to destabilise the situation,” he added. “Experience has shown that the targets of the attacks are usually buildings where voting commissions are located”.
According to the law enforcement officer, on the day of the elections more than 8,000 members of law enforcement bodies will be on duty to guarantee the general public’s safety. In all city and regional police stations in Chechnya special working groups are being created, with interaction between local administration heads as well as military command posts. In addition, hotlines are being installed in police stations so that local people can call in with information on any unusual incidents, or to obtain any news that may be of interest.
(Translation by MG)
(D,T) RELATED ARTICLES:
· Preparations for parliamentary elections in Chechnya are complete (PW, 18.11.2005)
· Chechen pupils may get extra holidays due to presidential election (PW, 1.9.2003)