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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Neo-Soviet Putin Simply Rewrites the History he Doesn't Care For

It's good to be the King. Facts you don't like you simply erase and they no longer exist. It's so convenient, right up until the time your nation (like the USSR) suddenly ceases to exist for some strange reason nobody can understand. The AFP reports:

A new Russian history textbook that reportedly praises President Vladimir Putin and justifies Stalin's dictatorship is a response to anti-Russian tendencies abroad, Kommersant daily quoted the controversial book's editor saying Thursday. "I have analysed books on Russian history in neighbouring countries and came to the conclusion... that our neighbours excel at educational Russophobia," the editor, Alexander Filippov, was quoted as saying. "The Russian people is presented as a source of all evil. It was necessary to respond," he said.

The newly approved textbook, "Russian History 1945-2007," is to be tried out in schools in five Russian regions pending nationwide approval. Kommersant said "the eras of Joseph Stalin and Leonid Brezhnev get good marks, with justification of authoritarianism and repression."

The 1990s rule of Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first post-Soviet leader, is portrayed as "crisis," while Putin's presidency -- seen by critics as reversing many post-Soviet freedoms -- is shown to be "effective," Kommersant said. In particular, the book puts a positive spin on the controversial imprisonment of Yukos oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky under Putin and the 2004 decision to end direct elections for regional governors, the report said. The text is based on a handbook published earlier this year by pro-Kremlin historians that described Stalin as "efficient."

"We don't justify Stalin on his purges but we also don't stigmatise him on every page," said Pavel Danilin, one of the book's authors and a researcher at the pro-Kremlin Foundation for Effective Policy. The new textbook is not yet available in bookshops and the 1,000 copies published have been sent directly to the schools concerned, where it will be used in classrooms during 2008, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported.

Other Russia adds:

Russian students will learn modern history from a now-infamous textbook titled “Russian History. 1945-2007,” based on the “Books For Teachers” of Alexander Filippov. The texts have been criticized for white-washing Soviet-era repressions, justifying Stalin’s purges, and propagandizing President Vladimir Putin’s tenure. As Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported on December 25th, 1000 copies have already been printed.

On December 26th, Ekho Moskvy radio reported the board of Russia’s Department of Education and Science met and approved the catalog of textbooks that will be used in the coming two school years. Since Filippov’s text was approved, the books will now be sent to at least five regions for classroom evaluation. At the end of a one-year term, the texts will be officially recommended to schools.

Filippov is the deputy director of the National Center for Foreign Policy, a think tank that has been linked to the Fund for Effective Politics, a political consulting group that lists the President Vladimir Putin as one of its clients. His book has been accused of justifying Stalin’s repressions, and with presenting the events of the last eight years from the position of Kremlin propaganda.

Defenders of the new version have responded that the book has been edited from the original, which is a teacher’s edition and includes conclusions specifically meant for instructors. The publishing house wrote that a controversial chapter titled “Debates about Stalin’s role in history” was removed from the student edition. That chapter listed one of the reasons for mass-repressions as “an ambition to achieve a maximally effective administrative apparatus.” It listed the results of the purges that killed millions of Russians as “the formulation of a new managerial class, up to the task of modernization under conditions of resource shortage.”

The last chapter of the textbook – “Russia’s fresh departure” – represents a shortened and more robust version of a chapter titled “Sovereign democracy,” in the original. This phrase is frequently used by the Putin administration to justify the increasingly strong and authoritarian model of Russian government. The chapter says that Putin’s move to cancel the direct elections of governors was based on “the unpreparedness of the executive branch to deal effectively with crises,” including the terrorist takeover of the Beslan School. The book’s authors explain that the “Yukos affair,” “finally buried the oligarch’s hopes to preserve their control over the Russian government.” The authors underscore the instructional nature of the example set by the oil company’s victimization: “In 2004, after the Yukos affair, federal tax revenues and collections increased at once by 133.8 percent in comparison with 2003.”

Several key agencies took part in the decision to create Russian history and social studies schoolbooks based on the works of Alexander Filippov and another author, Leonid Polyakov. Representatives of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow State University, the Ministry of Education, and the President’s executive council on science, technology and education met to charter the project.

As Polyakov announced, the new textbooks offer a “modern ideology,” and teach how to “foster a civic and patriotic viewpoint in the young person.”


pavel said...

As far as I know, the infamous textbook isn't being forced on anyone - at least not yet. There are plenty other, probably more "objective" textbooks on the market.

La Russophobe said...

We think it's common practice that students in schools are not given choice as to which history text they will study from. Do you dwell on this planet or some far-off galaxy in la-la land?

Are you suggesting that we sit idly by and do nothing until students are actually forced to study at gunpoint as in Soviet times, and all the real texts have been destroyed?

And, by the way, what makes you think any "objective" texts ever existed in Russia? Who would have written them? People who got their PhDs from the USSR? Interesting that you don't care to actually NAME a single one of them.

Anonymous said...

At any rate, the history book you denounce does not portray Nazi collaborators as "national heroes" the way school history textbooks do in some "newly independent" countries like Ukraine or Estonia.

La Russophobe said...

So it's OK if Russia is destroyed, as long as Ukraine and Estonia are too? Why do you hate Russia so much?

The book does far worse -- it rationalizes Josef Stalin, the worst killer of Russians in the history of the world. Unlike Ukraine and Estonia, Russia has no history of oppression by Russia to justify its ignorance and paranoia.

You've sucked too long at the teet of Soviet propaganda, eating the poison that destroyed the USSR, so now you think that as long as any country does something worse than Russia, Russia need not reform.

Have fun in oblivion, my poor deluded friend.

Anonymous said...

You do not cite any statistics confirming your point that "Stalin was the worst killer of Russians in the history of the world" (worse than Hitler?) Under him, the population of the country grew steadily, and under the "pro-Western democrat" Yeltsin it decreased at the rate of a million per year. Anyway, Stalin has won the World War II, and we are living in a world where only the end result matters. Who cares that the present-day "Only Superpower" is situated on a territory "purged" from its native population and the foundation of its might was laid by Black slaves toiling under whip?

As to Ukraine and Estonia having ever been "oppressed" by Russia - please do not make me laugh! Unlike you, I lived in the USSR and i saw with my own eyes that the living standards there were much higher than in Russia.