Virginia teacher suspended after reportedly making pro-Russia comments amid war with Ukraine

The substitute teacher writes for Russian state newspaper Pravda

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A substitute teacher at an Arlington, Virginia, middle school has been suspended for reportedly making pro-Russia comments amid the Russia-Ukraine war.

Arlington Public Schools spokesperson Frank Bellavia confirmed to Fox News Digital that John Stanton, 65, of Swanson Middle School "has been suspended for the remainder of the year."

"Because it’s a personnel matter, I can’t provide any other details," Bellavia said in an email.

Swanson Middle School, Arlington, Virginia. (Google Maps)

Swanson Middle School, Arlington, Virginia. (Google Maps)

Stanton told The Washington Post, which first reported on his suspension, that he spoke about the Ukraine-Russia war for the first 10 minutes of an hour-and-a-half-long Spanish lesson last Friday and said he was trying to present students with a different viewpoint.

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"I said, ‘Here’s what’s going on,’" Stanton told the outlet, adding that the statement he thinks got him in trouble was when he said, "'I personally support the logic of Putin.'"

"[W]hat I meant by that is, he made a rational decision from his perception," Stanton told Post.

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin, in Moscow on Feb. 14, 2022. (Photo by Alexei NIKOLSKY / Sputnik / AFP via Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin, in Moscow on Feb. 14, 2022. (Photo by Alexei NIKOLSKY / Sputnik / AFP via Getty Images)

Parents said in an email to the Arlington school board that Stanton's comments to students expressing support for Russia and asking if anyone "hated" the country was "Russian propaganda" and "advocacy of political positions," according to the Post.

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The substitute teacher, who said he currently writes for Russian state newspaper Pravda — the former official newspaper of the former Soviet Union's Communist Party — also reportedly encouraged students to read outlets like Sputnik, a Russian state news website.

His resume shared with the post also said he worked as a researcher for the American Enterprise Institute, hosted a "political/cultural radio program" in D.C. in the 1980s and worked as an "independent journalist."

The Ukrainian national flag is seen in front of a school which, according to local residents, was on fire after shelling, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Feb. 28, 2022. (REUTERS/Vitaliy Gnidyi)

The Ukrainian national flag is seen in front of a school which, according to local residents, was on fire after shelling, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Feb. 28, 2022. (REUTERS/Vitaliy Gnidyi)

A Feb. 28 op-ed from Stanton published by Pravda states that the U.S. owns "every country" in NATO, and that the West's efforts to provide "anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons" to Ukraine is "great news" for Western Defense Contractors. He also wrote that "the only way to form an opinion" about the Russia-Ukraine conflict "is to view as much from Russian and Western sources as is humanly possible."

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"Any support aired by anyone on the West for the Russian position gets mauled and derided by pro-West pundits," he wrote. Stanton also called the 2014 Ukraine-Russia conflict resulting in the annexation of Crimea a "US sponsored coup in Ukraine."

Stanton told the Post that while he understands why his brief lesson to middle school students about different opinions on the Ukraine-Russia war is inappropriate, he said that if he could reach "one student" who wanted to learn more, he "would do it again."