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Pro-Stalin history textbook sparks controversy in Russia

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - 23:28

Moscow: A new university textbook written
by academics at Russia`s top university has sparked
controversy with what critics call a pro-Stalinist and
anti-Semitic view of Soviet and Russian history.

Teaching students using the book would be a "sabotage
of Russia`s civilised, democratic and legal development," two
historians from the Russian Institute of History, Vladimir
Lavrov and Igor Kurlyandsky, wrote today in Novaya Gazeta

The textbook, "A History of Russia, 1917-2009,"
written by two Moscow State University academics, Alexander
Barsenkov and Alexander Vdovin, attempts to justify Stalin-era
repressions, including the Gulag camp system, the deportation
of entire ethnic groups and forced collectivisation.

Describing the mass arrests and executions of the
1930s, the authors write that the authorities had a justified
fear of enemies within the Soviet Union: "All those millions
of people offended by the policies of the Soviet authorities
formed a potential for a `fifth column` that was far from

The textbook also attempts to rationalise the
Stalin-ordered deportations of whole people including the
Crimean Tatars, Chechens, Ingushs and Kalmyks to Siberia and
Central Asia.

"The reason that some were deported was their
heightened readiness to collaborate with the occupiers and
suspicions of this," it claims, a theory that is rejected by
Western historians and many Russian experts.

The textbook places strong emphasis on the number of
Jewish people who held positions of power in Soviet culture
and media.

It alleges that the Soviet authorities blocked Jewish
people from occupying top posts after World War II because of
"the growing pro-Western sympathies of citizens of Jewish
origin, which increased the possibility of their being used
in the interests of American strategy".

The public chamber, a state-run government oversight
body, last week published a critical report on the book, but
no concrete measures have been taken against the textbook or
its authors.


First Published: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - 23:28

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