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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

For Yeltsin Scion, a Class With Class

When President Boris Yeltsin's grandson and namesake begins the fall term this year, his chances of meeting schoolmates with fist-size bows in their hair, reciting reams of Pushkin in unison with the rest of his class or eating kasha at the school stolovaya are virtually nil.


Due to start at the high-class Millfield school in England on Sept. 1, Boris Okulov, 15, will instead have to choose whether to swim in the indoor or outdoor swimming pool, swing a few holes at the golf course or go horseback riding across the sprawling grounds.


The school, which with fees of ?15,000 a year ($22,500) is one of England's most expensive, is said to resemble a university campus more than a high-school, and has buses available to ferry pupils around the grounds.


But according to the school's headmaster, Christopher Milton, Okulov is most excited about Millfield's reputation for tennis, which he enjoys almost as much as his grandfather. Despite its solid academic record, the school is most notable for producing top athletes.


"It may well be that he's chosen Millfield because of his interest in the game," Martin said.


With foreign schooling becoming a status symbol for Russia's new rich, Okulov, the son of Yeltsin's oldest daughter, Yelena, is not the first young Russian to head to England for a high-class education.


"The most famous case was Stalin's granddaughter Svetlana," said John Towey, a consultant at London's Independent Schools Information Service. "That was back in the days when virtually nobody came here from Russia to study. But now I think that almost every big English boarding school has at least one Russian pupil."


The more expensive the school, the more popular it tends to be, Towey said. "If a school went to Russia saying it was cheap , it wouldn't get a lot of clients."


But Martin insisted that the parents of his Russian pupils -- there are five Russian students at the school already -- were inspired by more than prestige when they enrolled their children at Millfield.


"I would hate to think that social status plays a role in affecting parents' choices," he said. "Perhaps that was the case 20 years ago, but I don't think it's true nowadays."


Popular as English schools may be, Russian parents tend to have unrealistic perceptions of them, Towey said.


"The richer parents are used to saying 'I will have' and paying to get it," he said. "Sometimes they look at schools that get good results in state exams and say 'My child will go there.' They're surprised when they hear that the child might not be accepted at that particular school."


Towey also said Russian children are often more homesick than their schoolmates from other parts of the world.


"They have stronger family ties and it sometimes takes them much longer to settle," he said.


Okulov, who will complete his last two years of education at Millfield, certainly has one close family tie that he might be expected to miss. Yeltsin is said to be especially fond of his young namesake and has described him as a stubborn, sometimes naughty, boy who in many ways resembles his grandfather.