A Civic and Patriotic Youth

Student source - pskov.kp.ruRussian 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.”