Russia fires official over 'push-up humiliation'
A Russian regional leader on Saturday fired a top local official after he was shown in a video forcing children to kiss his feet in a gruelling series of push-ups while on a visit to a school.
The Internet video, which has harvested tens of thousands of hits on YouTube, showed the official from the Bashkortostan region of southern Russia barking instructions at the early teens in a school gym.
The spindly children, dressed in basketball vests, struggle to carry out the press-ups as the besuited official extends his foot as a target. "Press harder! One! Two! Kiss the foot!" he is heard shouting.
The leader of Bashkortostan, a mainly Muslim region in the Urals, publicly named the official as the head of the Ermekeyev district, Difkat Khantimerov, and said he has been sacked with immediate effect.
"Yesterday I watched the video on the Internet and it shocked me to my core," said Bashkortostan president Rustem Khamitov in a statement published by Russian news agencies.
"This looks like an outrage, an insult against schoolchildren. I have decided to relieve Difkat Khantimerov from his duties," he added.
Khamitov said he was appalled that the official, whose district lies southwest of the local capital Ufa, had stained the reputation of Bashkortostan with the incident.
The video showed some of the clearly exhausted children barely able to complete a single push-up as the official sternly carries on shouting at them to kiss his black shoe and then his hand.
Russian media reports said the incident occurred while Khantimerov was on a visit to the main school in the Ermekeyev district to mark a sporting festival and take part in training with the boys.
Footage of the video is viewable on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XixpWlDvdVs.
Russia has traditionally taken a tough approach to education with strict militaristic methods dating back to the Soviet Union but in recent years the authorities have worked hard to encourage a more caring line.
© 2010 AFP