Oligarchs and anti-Putin protests disappear from Russian school history books
by Nina Achmatova
Guidelines for a unified text for middle and high schools are presented, sparking controversy over coverage of post- soviet period. Even the Church is ready to weigh into debate.

Moscow (AsiaNews ) - President Vladimir Putin is set to approve today, October 31, a document that summarizes guidelines for the only history text book for Russian middle and high schools shall be written. This was announced by a spokesman for the Russian Historical Society. The initiative, promoted by the Kremlin, is highly controversial and has sparked criticism from those who see it as an attempt by Moscow to impose a "government" version of events in Soviet -style propaganda.

As reported by the Russian media, the chapter covering the history of Russia's post - soviet period could be the one with most cuts. The online Polit.ru newspaper writes that the 1990s war between oligarchs to hoard the country's resources through privatization and their subsequent forced removal from the Russian political scene by Putin will be completely omitted. Years of fighting violent crime and agreements between the business world and the corridors of power - continues the newspaper - are summarized in the Guidelines for the text, with a generic "the state set the agenda on the issue of corporate social responsibility". In any case, post- soviet Russia is the only period treated without analyzes or interpretations, mainstream media are keen to let people know.

The initiative of the unified textbook, ordered by Putin last February but already under discussion as far back as 2007, has garnered much criticism in the scientific world. The Russian head of state had asked to receive proposals on the new textbook by November 1, denouncing as "absolutely unacceptable" the number of history textbooks used in schools of the Federation , which rose from 41 to 65 since the beginning of the year last year.

In recent weeks, there had already been controversy over the fact that the 'unified manual' would cover the period up to 2012 , in order to include history of the Putin era . According to some experts, it is still too soon to evaluate and analyze the last thirteen years. Others have suggested to stop at 2000, and then prepare a separate section on the era where Putin can list the facts, but without interpreting them. The Russian news agencies recall that in June, both the Ministers of Education and Culture that had expressed the need to set the time limit in the study of national history to the year 2000.

Even if it cannot be described as a radical ' revision ' of the school curricula, some changes are bound to cause controversy : the becomes the Tatar- Mongol affair becomes the Golden Horde ( to please the Tatars historians) , the great 'October Socialist Revolution' will be 'the Great Revolution of 1917 ' , the title 'Stalinist socialism' disappears from the period 1929-1941 (which , however, remains in the text) and it does not mention the number of victims of the purges of the leader, while it does recognize his establishing a dictatorship. The protests that accompanied the return of Putin to the Kremlin in 2012 are also omitted in favor of a general reference to protests for and against the government.

The guidelines shall establish twenty subjects recognized as "controversial", allowing teachers to deal with different interpretations. They include the role of Stalin, the cost of the Second World War and the economic and political situation of the country in the 2000s.

The initiative, analysts point out, is part of Moscow's broader policy to create a strong national identity, based on Christian values ​​on the one hand and the other on the victory in World War II, while closing one eye on the crimes and atrocities the Soviet era.

Now a tender will be launched for the compilation of the textbook and the Russian Orthodox Church has promised it will make its contribution, especially regarding the Soviet period, where it is unwilling to accept any omissions or superficial approaches to the crimes and the repression implemented by the regime.