Debate rages in Russia over history textbooks

tags: Russia, Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Putin, Moscow Times



As part of his effort to promote patriotism among younger generations of Russians, President Vladimir Putin has proposed creating a single set of history textbooks for schoolchildren, arguing that there should be more consistency in what students are taught and that textbooks should be free of internal contradictions and ambiguities.

Speaking at a meeting of the Kremlin council on interethnic relations in February, Putin said textbooks must be "designed for different ages but built around a single concept, with the logical continuity of Russian history, the relationship between the different stages in history, and respect for all the pages of our past." He called for specific proposals to be prepared by November.

Advocates of the new textbooks say discord in the historical narrative has brought about a lack of patriotism in the country, while opponents say they fear that failures of state policies will be omitted to promote a more positive image of the country, with the emphasis exclusively on victories and achievements....

It is not clear whether Putin will play a role in the creation of the textbooks. The initiative has provoked a great deal of discussion on the Internet, with many comparisons being made to Soviet history textbooks, the writing of which was personally controlled by Soviet leader Josef Stalin during his time in power.

The Stalin-era textbook was focused on the idea of continuity and succession. Alexander Nevsky, Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great were presented as patriots building a strong nation and battling foreign invaders, with Stalin depicted as their successor in these endeavors....



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