June 19, 2013
Like Josef Stalin before him, Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided that schoolchildren are confronted with too many versions of their country’s history.
So he’s planning to provide his own.
This week, the newspaper Vedomosti published a document in which government officials set out guidelines for a definitive series of history textbooks, meant to replace the myriad texts currently being used in Russian schools. Under Putin’s orders, the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Historical Society must submit proposals for the official books by November 1, after a public discussion period.
History has always been a political issue in Russia. In the 1980s, the Soviet Union was arguably undermined as much by a flood of public revelations about Stalin’s purges as by falling energy prices. Now, as Putin works to establish a new Russian ideology, based on Orthodox Christian values and a sense of national pride, he needs his own official version of history for the classroom.