History taken to task by Putin

The history books in Russia may have to be rewritten yet again. President Vladimir Putin has ordered a review of all history textbooks after one controversial book asked students to debate whether he is a dictator running a police state.

The Russian president has written to the president of the Russian Academy of Sciences demanding an inquiry into the history textbooks used across Russia by February 1. The pretext for the letter, dated December, is a response to complaints about Russian history books, particularly from World War II veterans. Yet privately, Kremlin officials are thought to be furious about one particular textbook, National History: The 20th Century, which addresses the former KGB officer’s authoritarian administration.

The Kremlin has been careful to create a popular mandate for the revision. According to the Kommersant newspaper, Putin writes in the letter: ‘I share the feelings and opinions of the veterans of the great patriotic war [World War II]. I order that in the shortest period of time scientists and historians be invited to consider the situation with history books for middle schools. The results of this work should be reported by February 1.”

National History: The 20th Century was banned in schools in November by the Education Ministry. About 20 000 copies were being read by 16- and 17-year-old schoolchildren - impressionable future voters.

The book was written by a history teacher, Igor Dolutsky, and addresses Putin’s rise to power. It asks students to ‘disprove or prove” a remark by journalist Yury Burtin about ‘Putin’s personal power and authoritarian dictatorship”. -



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