Moscow teacher fired for supporting open source

A Russian teacher claims he was forced to quit his job after he complained about being made to use Microsoft software.

Computer science teacher Vladimir Sorokin, who was deputy director of School No. 572 in southeastern Moscow, told the Moscow Times that education officials had pressured him into resigning after he complained to president Dmitry Medvedev about an online training system that required students to use Microsoft Office.

"The education directorate is giving preference to Microsoft," Sorokin complained. "There has to be freedom of choice."

Sorokin claims the training system forces Moscow schools to defy a government directive originally issued in 2007, which requires schools to use the open source operating system Linux, as part of a drive towards a 'national OS'.

Education chiefs at Moscow's City Hall issued orders on 23rd September that all schools were to adopt the Microsoft-based system, which prepares students for the country's Single State Exam. The system has been developed by the Moscow Institute of Open Learning, which has direct ties to City Hall.

Sorokin filed a complaint about the system with the Kremlin on 5th October, and was told in mid-October that his comments had been forwarded to Moscow's City Hall.

Sorokin says that on 23rd October, he was told by the director of his school, Tatyana Kolyadenkova, that he was "not wanted" at the establishment, because he had "set up the people who feed the school" - a reference to the Moscow Institute of Open Education, which provides money and equipment for education programmes at the school.

Sorokin was told he had to file a voluntary resignation. According to the Moscow Times report, the Kremlin has not responded to a request from him to explain why his complaint was forwarded to the very organisation he'd been complaining about.

The incident is not the first to highlight Moscow city bosses' controversial relationship with Microsoft. Last week, IT news site CNews.ru reported that all Macintosh computers bought for schools this summer were to be installed with Windows XP.

Ivan Pavlov, board chairman of the St Petersburg-based Institute for Information Freedom Development, said that the recent order from City Hall concerning its online training system was illegal because it violated competition laws.