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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Battle for Crimean minds

+ Stalin rehab alert

A mother found the following version of history in her son's grade 8 notebook from a lesson delivered by a teacher (identified only as Alexandr A) at Simferopol's Lyceum No.1 in Crimea earlier this month:

"The word Ukraine is derogatory, it means 'borderland.' The word Ukraine was made legal in order to divide [the country]. We do not live in Ukraine, we live in Russia. Rus was baptized, not Ukraine. Kyiv is the mother of Russian cities, not Ukrainian. In order to maintain unity of the Russian people, we should not recognize a state such as Ukraine. The Ukrainian people and language do not exist."

In Sobytiya's "Schoolchildren are taught to hate Ukraine," Crimean newspaper journalist Lana Myrnaya found officials at the school and in the autonomy's education ministry dismissed the need to take immediate action against the historian who's merely providing 12 year-olds with "his own point of view."

But an article about Russia's New History in the Sept. 20 edition of Dzerkalo Tyzhnia suggests that teacher Alexandr A. is merely following the history educational guidelines approved by the Kremlin.

In the article history PhDs Ihor Hyrych and Olena Radzyvill review resurgent Russia's rewriting of history in "New Russian Stalin, or constructors of the 'bright past'." According to a speech delivered by Moscow Memorial head Arseny Rohynsky in Paris, December 2007, the new Russian history textbooks and teachers' guides admit Stalin was bad, but spend more time focusing on the positive aspect of Stalin's thirty decades of bloody rule. Here's how the Holodomor in Russia is explained away:

"Yes, many villagers (peasants) died or were subject to other repression during collectivization, but an agricultural economy was given an industrial base; yes, industrialization was conducted on account of the peasantry and using violent methods, but in place of agrarian Russia there came an industrialized USSR; yes Stalin organized mass repressions, but he won the war…" and "Stalin was an effective 'manager'"

This whitewashing of Stalin for the Holodomors, purges, terror, Molotov-Ribbentrop, Katyn and demonization of Ukraine and Poland is part of the new Russian Ministry of Education's State Standard for teaching history.

This standard, used for all textbooks for all grades has resulted in "the latest Putin-era textbooks treating Russia's history from a position of strength, justifying militarism and the Russian state's aggressive designs. They include xenophobic treatments, demonize other nations and formulate a clear image of the enemy, thus recreating the old bipolar model of the world from the times of J. Stalin to L. Brezhnev."

Concerning the enemy "what is good and positive from Europe and North America's point of view is not good for Russia, it's negative," according to the authors.

The "Third Rome's" geopolitical designs include the Balkans and Asia Minor.

As for Molotov-Ribbentrop and two years of joint Nazi-Soviet collaboration, Russian teachers tell their students that Stalin was forced to do so, otherwise Hitler would have strukh a deal with Great Britain to attack Soviet Russia.

On Sunday afternoon, with just under 22.5 million votes, had Stalin in second place, 300,000 votes behind Alexandr Nevsky and less than 100,000 votes ahead of Peter I. I was able to cast a vote for Mendeleev from the list of twelve, but only after correctly answering a multiple choice history question – a clever filter to make sure that only Russians can vote for their greatest.


Schoolchildren are taught to hate Ukraine by Lana Myrnaya (Russian, Sobytiya, Sept. 12, 2008):

New Russian Stalin, or constructors of the 'bright past' by Ihor Hyrych and Olena Radzyvill (Ukrainian, Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, Sept. 20):

Will the tongue lead to Moscow? by Valentyna Samar (Ukrainian, Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, Sept. 20):

Russian Education Ministry's History Standard:

"Greatest Russian" project website:


Oleksandr said...

Dear Stepan!

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European conference on new media, blogs, social networks, online
startups etc. Blogcamp is scheduled on on Oct. 17-19 in Kyiv; you may
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I'm thinking about having a discussion session "Blogging in English in Eastern
Europe" at Blogcamp on Oct. 18th. Would you like to participate in such
(panel) discussion?

If yes, please let me know at

PS I blog at


samraat said...
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