Ukraine ‘began the war against Russia’ in Moscow’s official school history textbook
Russia’s education minister has presented a new school history textbook which blames Kyiv and the West for its war of aggression against Ukraine and calls Russia “a country of heroes”. Russian school history textbooks have been filled with distortions about recent events since (at least) Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014. This new book, however, breaks all records in replacing factual information with overt, and hysterical, propaganda. The aim is essentially to zombify children, who are no longer presented merely with isolated distortions, but with an entire diet of lies. This must essentially be learned off by heart as the claims bear no scrutiny, and additional questions may get the teenagers, or their parents, facing charges of ‘discrediting the Russian armed forces’ or of ‘spreading fakes’.
The most shocking part of all of this, and a likely war crime, is that Moscow will be using this ‘textbook’ to try to indoctrinate children on occupied Ukrainian territory.
Russia’s minister of education, Sergei Kravtsov first announced that a new history textbook had been prepared in late April, with a new section on what Moscow continues to call it’s ‘special military operation’, that is, the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The authors were named as Vladimir Medinsky, former culture minister and adviser to Russian president Vladimir Putin, and Anatoly Torkunov, Dean of MGIMO [Moscow State Institute of International Relations].
The book itself in Moscow on 7 August by both Kravtsov and Medinsky. The section on the war (the so-called ‘special military operation’, or, from the Russian ‘SVO’) covers 29 pages, with this purportedly presenting “the reasons and course of the special military operation; the reunification of the Russian Federation and Crimea; as well as the joining the country of new regions.” This, of course, is Russianspeak for the invasion and annexation, first of Crimea, then of parts of the Donetsk; Luhansk; Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts. During the presentation, Medinsky specifically stated that the book covers all events up to the time of publication “at the demand of the state”. The minister, in fact, t as 20% cheaper precisely because it’s the state textbook, with author rights belonging to the state.
This is to be ‘the’ history textbook, with Kravtsov justifying the imposition of only one book as being “to fight the division of peoples and spreading of distrust between people”.
The textbook has completely rewritten the history previously taught from the 1970s, with the description of key events during the presentation making it clear that it is not only Russia’s war against Ukraine that is subject to distortion.
The following are from the last, truly, Orwellian section on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the role of western countries ().
“Ukraine is an ultra-nationalist state. At present any dissident thinking in Ukraine is brutally persecuted against; the opposition is banned and all that is Russia is declared hostile.
The destruction is underway of everything that, in one way or another, testifies to the common history and culture of brotherly nations.” The text goes on to mention Ukraine’s policy of decommunization, then claims, much less accurately, that there has been wholesale destruction of monuments to Soviet soldiers fighting in WWII. It finally ‘accuses’ Ukraine of destroying everything connected with Russia, including monuments to Aleksandr Pushkin, other Russian writers, etc. It does not, of course, explain that any removal of such monuments or street names, came after Russia began bombing Ukrainian cities, killing and maiming innocent civilians.
You will not find any mention in this alleged ‘history textbook’ of the atrocities committed in Bucha, the mass graves outside Izium, Mariupol and other cities that are, or were, under occupation, the basements where the Russian invaders tortured civilians. You will not see any mention or photos of the residential blocks, hospitals, schools, humanitarian aid centres and other civilian targets that the Russians have bombed. All of this has been documented by the International Criminal Court’s investigators, as well as war crimes prosecutors from a huge number of ICC member states, and there are also countless media photos, videos and witness accounts.
The authors make it quite clear that they know about the weight of evidence against Russia’s laundered presentation of its actions in Ukraine and go to some effort to convince their readers that such ‘evidence’ is fake, used by those with a hidden agenda. On p. 409, they write:
“Finding on the Internet any information about events in Ukraine, remember: a world industry for producing staged video clips; false claims; fake photos and videos is working in uninterrupted conveyor belt mode. Western social media and the press, dominant in the world’s information realm, enthusiastically push any ‘fakes’. “
The school students are told to “be vigilant” and to ask why “opposition figures”, etc. “pedal such news”, and whose interests they are serving. This, it is worth noting, comes immediately after the authors misrepresent Russia’s repressive law on so-called ‘foreign agents’ and falsely claim that Russia merely brought in, and only in 2012, what the USA introduced in the 1930s.
It is not, the authors would have students believe, Russia that is, on a daily basis, violating international law, but the West, through its “unlawful” sanctions. These are purportedly aimed at destroying Russia’s economy. It is claimed, in bravado mode, that all these supposed efforts have, however, failed, and that the sanctions have merely opened up “new opportunities’.
The main “benefactor” of what the authors refer to as “the Ukrainian conflict” is, they claim, the USA which has, purportedly, succeeded in foisting its “expensive gas and other resources” on Europe. Its defence industry is supposedly inundated with orders and, therefore, the authors, imply “the USA is full of determination to fight ‘to the last Ukrainian’.”
This is only a small part of the lies just on around five pages. The most Orwellian quote, however, comes from Putin, who, on 24 February 2022, claimed that: “we did not begin any military action, we are trying to end it. This military action was begun by Ukrainian nationalists in 2014.” This was just minutes before Russian began its full-scale invasion and attempt to seize Kyiv, Kharkiv and other Ukrainian cities.
These lies have now been laid out in what is planned as the one and only permitted ‘school history textbook’ for Grades 10 and 11. Over the past year and a half, teachers, parents and students who dared to disagree with or simply not repeat the official version have faced persecution, and this will undoubtedly continue.
Teachers must present such propaganda, with the text even prompting the ‘questions’ that students are to be ‘asked’, with these requiring them merely to repeat what they have been told.