Tens of thousands call for Russian PM’s dismissal
MOSCOW – A petition calling on Russia’s president to sack Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, whose comments about teachers’ pay sparked outrage earlier this week, has attracted more than a hundred thousand signatures.
When asked by a teacher from the impoverished Dagestan region why teachers are paid half as much as police officers, Medvedev retorted that teaching is not a job for those seeking to make a fortune and that teachers could always do odd jobs to supplement their income.
“I’m positive that a young, energetic teacher can get his pay that he’s entitled to as well as make some money on the side,” Medvedev told the teacher at a youth forum north of Moscow.
Teaching, Medvedev said, is “a calling. If one wants to make money, there are lots of other places to do it easier and quicker.”
According to change.org, where the online petition appears, the demand that President Vladimir Putin sack Medvedev had attracted more than 160,000 signatures by Friday afternoon. The petition said someone who tells “teachers to make money on the side” should not lead the cabinet.
Medvedev was Russia’s president between 2008 and 2012 and was described as a place-holder for Putin who was not eligible for a third consecutive term in office when his second term expired in 2008. Putin was in the prime minister’s seat those four years before he and Medvedev announced a swap in 2011, ahead of the presidential election. The swap was resented by many Russians and has been cited as one of the underlying reasons for the massive anti-government protests in Moscow in 2011 and 2012.
Medvedev’s approval ratings have been consistently lower than Putin’s. Analysts say an unpopular prime minister in charge of the economy has deflected blame for falling living standards from Putin himself.
Medvedev during his time in office introduced a law which made it obligatory for the government to consider any petition which attracts more than 100,000 signatories on a special government-run website. There was no such petition calling for Medvedev’s ouster on this website on Friday, and there have been no publicized cases of an online petition leading to a change in Russian legislation.