ST. PETERSBURG, January 30 (RIA Novosti) - A high school girl from St. Petersburg, who is suing Russia's education authorities over the compulsory teaching of evolution in schools, has left school and the country, citing pressure from teachers and anonymous threats, her father and lawyer said Tuesday.
Maria Shraiber and her father, Kirill Shraiber have said their suit does not seek to abolish the teaching of Darwinism in schools, which was official dogma in Soviet times, but to give schoolchildren the right to study other theories regarding the origins of life.
Mr Shraiber said that since the suit was filed in July, his daughter had suffered from serious discrimination at school and even received threatening letters.
"Masha used to be a good student, but after we filed the suit, she received six Ds on her quarterly report card," he said. "Of course, we expected some confrontation, but not like this."
Mr Shraiber said Maria had left for the Dominican Republic where she had already found a job at a real estate and travel agency.
"Masha left for the Dominican Republic around New Year's to visit her older brother who is working there," her father said. "She will also have good language practice."
Kirill Shraiber said he would continue suing the Russian Education and Science Ministry and representing his underage daughter in court. The latest session was held December 13, and the next one is scheduled for February 21.
The Shraiber family hopes the litigation will alter the curriculum and result in new textbooks that do not offer only one explanation for the origins of life.
"Darwin only presented a hypothesis that has not been proved by him or anyone else," Shraiber said. "Therefore, we think that when schools impose that theory on children as the only scientific option, they violate the human right of free choice."
Yelena Mamedova, deputy headmaster at the school, said Maria Shraiber did not know biology well enough, even though she was a good student.
"Her grades were never very good in biology. I don't think she knows Darwin's theory very well," Mamedova said, adding that teachers had never discussed Maria's lawsuit.
Mamedova said Maria took her school records home with her late last year. "After the court hearings opened, Masha rarely turned up at school, and she has not explained her departure at all," she said.
The city committee representing Russia's Education and Science Ministry in court declined to comment.
The Russian lawsuit echoes a string of similar disputes in the United States over the teaching of Creationism alongside Darwinism in the school curriculum.
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Alexy II, who is also opposed to the teaching of Darwinism in schools, said Monday that imposing the theory that humans descended from apes on schoolchildren was unacceptable.
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