Moscow: 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 be-suited 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.