Russian school gets 'Versailles makeover'
A school in Russia has undergone a spectacular renovation prior to the beginning of the new academic year, but not everyone is impressed.
With chandeliers, marble floors, gold-trim, and ceilings adorned with angels, the "building now looks more like a palace or museum than a regular school", the Vesti TV news programme reports.
The Vtorchermet suburb of the Siberian city of Yekaterinburg is known for its 1940s buildings, and many local people have been calling for serious renovation work on the school, which has been showing its age.
Yekaterinburg businessman Andrey Simanovsky, who attended School 106 as a child, planned and funded the refurbishment.
The fact that his Sima Land company decorated a huge supermarket on the city outskirts in a similarly lavish style should have given staff and parents ample warning.
The company is also known for its lavish New Year office parties, and its employees are reported to start the working day by singing the Russian national anthem, according to the local E1.RU news site.
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The school makeover has supporters and detractors on social media. Some say the style is kitschy and pompous, but others think it will teach children to appreciate beauty.
"It is beautiful, true, but not very cosy for the children," Natalia Maximova wrote on Russia's VK social network.
But VK user Katya Nekrasova disagrees, saying the interior is "noble, beautiful, and luxurious... I am certain the design will nurture the youngsters spiritually."
'No need to visit the Louvre'
Some commentators think the money could have been better spent."They could have renovated and equipped dozens of schools in a normal, ordinary way with this money," VK user Fyodor Sergienko said.
But Andrei Simanovsky dismisses all objections, saying the students "won't need to visit Versailles or the Louvre now" as the interiors "will create a good mood straightaway... and people who criticise it are simply jealous".
Headmistress Marina Polyakova is certainly happy with the results. "Beauty brings out the noblest emotions in people… Some of our schoolgirls had tears in their eyes. The children are beginning to cherish this," she told the 66.RU news site.
School 106 is not the first educational establishment to benefit from Mr Simanovsky's generosity. He earlier gifted the rector of the Ural State University of Economics a marble and gold toilet.
Reporting by Ksenia Idrisova and Anna Bakhareva
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