February 12, 2009

Guinea pigs given by apologetic Kremlin

A 13-year-old Russian girl who was scolded for writing a letter asking the president for a guinea pig has received an apology and two pets, her parents said.

The parents of Anastasia Ivliyeva said the Kalitvensky girl wrote an e-mail to President Dmitry Medvedev's official Web site asking him for a female guinea pig to serve as a companion to the male guinea pig her parents had recently bought for her, The Times of London reported Thursday.

However, weeks after she wrote the e-mail, the teenager was summoned to the office of her school headmistress, Galina Boldireva, who ordered Ivliyena to apologize to a local government inspector for wasting government time and publicly withdraw her pet request.

The girl's parents said Boldireva also called Ivliyena's father and criticized her academic performance and his parenting for allowing his daughter to contact the president with a trivial matter.

She was insulting my husband, saying that we were not paying enough attention to what she was doing in her free time at home and that we could afford to buy a guinea pig, said Lyudmila Ivliyena, Anastasia's mother.

However, the parents wrote their own e-mail to the Kremlin in protest of the family's treatment at the hands of the local officials. The complaint resulted in a local education director presenting Ivliyena with two guinea pigs and a letter acknowledging her request, Lyudmila Ivliyena said.