Russia extends the battlefield to its history books

© Yuri Kadobnov, AFP

As Russian students headed back to school this year, many were given updated history textbooks – part of an attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to reaffirm his chosen narrative of Russia’s place in the world. The new books include a glorified account of Russia's history, derision aimed at its enemies and justifications for the invasion of Ukraine.

In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, no sector escapes the reach of the state. As students began a new year of classes last week they were presented with new textbooks, each written within the space of a few months and presenting a revised interpretation of the fall of the Soviet Union, the Putin era and the causes of the Ukraine war. The books are part of a larger attempt by the Putin regime to shape how younger generations see Russia’s place in the world and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Formally introduced in mid-August by Education Minister Sergei Kravtsov, the new texts garnered immediate criticism after they were leaked online for illustrating Putin’s efforts to establish an “alternate reality” that rejects widely accepted historical facts, even those facts that were once accepted by Russia.

One of the textbooks is aimed at 17-year-olds and covers the postwar period from 1945 to today while another new edition, for 16-year-olds, discusses World War II. Chapters covering the Soviet Union in the final decades of the Cold War and events in Russia in the years that followed have been rewritten.

(with AFP and Reuters)

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