No flowers for teacher on the first day? Russians feel the pinch.

School costs – uniforms, notebooks, gym clothes – are soaring in recession-hit Russia, and pupils and parents are griping over the unwelcome changes in their classrooms.

The first day of school is always a really big deal in Russia.

Parents and pupils gather in schoolyards around the country to hear speeches and watch often-elaborate performances prepared over the summer by teachers. There are flags, balloons, and, sometimes, sing-alongs. There is the symbolic ringing of the first bell, and each school's oldest students traditionally seek out the youngest kids, take them by the hand, and lead them to their very first class.

Fred Weir | Yahoo

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