MOSCOW, April 11 (RIA Novsoti) – Russian billionaire-turned-politician Mikhail Prokhorov said on Thursday that religious lessons, introduced last year in Russian schools, threaten the principles of a secular state.
Starting from September 2012, Russian fourth-graders have the opportunity to study a new subject called “Fundamentals of Religion.” As part of the course, they can select a more detailed study of the principles of a particular religion, the history of all religions in general or ethics.
Speaking at a meeting with employees of Russian museums and libraries, Prokhorov said that the initiative was “a bit over the top, and nothing good will come of it.”
“It poses a serious threat to the secular nature of our state. I think that present events are a serious step back. Our party opposes any attempt by any religion to undermine the secularity of school education,” he said, adding that every citizen should have a chance to study religious principles in special schools.
He also said that the state should pay more attention to culture and treat it “with the same attention it treats oil and gas issues.”
Prokhorov, whose fortune is estimated by Forbes magazine at $13 billion, jumped headfirst into Russian politics months before the 2011 elections. His surprising debut triggered allegations that he was a Kremlin spoiler, which were never either confirmed or dispelled.