The Telegraph reports that Putin has launched a new initiative to take control over the teaching of “history” in neo-Soviet Russia in order to protect Stalin the Great from the malicious lies of the West. He also claims that Stalin’s murder of 20 million Russians is analagous to the U.S. war in Vietnam, where less than 100,000 Americans were killed, and the nuclear bombing of Japan, where no Americans were killed, as if Stalin had the same right to go to war against the people of Russia as America did to fight Japan or the North Vietnamese Communists, sponsored by the USSR. In other words, he’s gone stark raving mad, himself a victim of the censored textbooks by which he learned the “history” of the world.
President Vladimir Putin has raised the prospect of a return to Soviet-style academic censorship after he accused the West of plotting to distort Russian history in an attempt to crush patriotic sentiment in schools. The Russian leader claimed that a generation of schoolchildren was learning a version of their past that had been deliberately skewed by historians in the pay of the West. “Many of our textbooks are written by people on foreign grants,” Mr Putin told history and science teachers at a conference outside Moscow. “They are dancing a polka ordered by those who pay for it. This is undoubtedly an instrument for influencing our country.”
In a warning that will send a chill through Russia’s dwindling ranks of liberal academics, the president indicated that publishing houses that did not print more patriotic textbooks would face state censorship. “Publishing houses should become more responsible,” he said. “The state should play a greater role in this respect.” According to the president, Western historians have attempted to belittle the Soviet Union’s role in World War II and exaggerate the negative aspects of Stalin’s Great Terror in the 1930s, which saw millions of Russians die. He said Russia’s past was much more benign and much less blood-soaked than that of the United States. “We have fewer such (dark) pages than do some countries, and they were less terrible than in some countries,” he said. “We have never used nuclear weapons against civilians and we have never dumped chemical weapons on thousands of kilometres of land as was the case in Vietnam.” Vladimir Ryzhkov, a historian and one of the last independent MPs in the Russian parliament, said that Kremlin hardliners were keen to revive Stalin’s reputation in order to justify the country’s increasingly autocratic path.’
A reader comments by e-mail:
Now THIS I call really disturbing, though, of course, not surprising. Actually the rubbish about America is the least worrying because it is so ridiculous. Excuse me, just where are the mass graves, each with 10,000+ bodies with a single bullet in the back of the skull containing victims of American OFFICIAL execution squads (as in Butovo, Kurapaty, and Katyn) ? They don’t exist. And did the Americans rape millions of German women as the Red Army did? (yes “millions” – Anthony Beevor’s research identified the huge numbers including that “The scale of rape is suggested by the fact that about two million women had illegal abortions every year between 1945 and 1948”). Did American presidents or British Prime Ministers slaughter seven million of their own people and incarcerate 20 million? Which ones killed most of the members of his own family and his in laws, including their sister in law who they had had an affair with, and put their daughter’s boyfriend in a labour camp? None, stupid. What planet are you on Mr Putin? To talk about Hiroshima casualites is also stupid. 90,000-120,000 died in Hiroshima – at the time and from the later effects of radiation. More than twice that number – 300,000 – of Red Army soliders died taking Berlin and over 1,000,000 German soldiers died at the hands of the Red Army as Germany fell. That’s war. Stalin’s lack of preparedness and the way his generals we put up against each other in a race to be the first to get to Berlin, regardless of casualties cost AT LEAST the same number of deaths as Hiroshima, if not more. Possibly, if you add the Russian POWs that died in German camps because Stalin refused to acknowledge them and they couldn’t receive Red Cross parcels, TEN times more. Pollution? Talk to the people in the nuclear sites south of Chelyabinsk, where babies are born without eyes or limbs and the local museums have glass jars containing two headed cows. And elsewhere all over Russia. The 2006 Blacksmith Report on the 34 most polluted cities and regions in the world named SEVEN in Russia and FIVE in other countries of the former USSR. That is ONE THIRD of the worlds most foul spots.
COME ON! Repeat a lie often enough and you get people believing it. But, as I was saying the REALLY worrying thing is the censorship of history that Putin is proposing. Any one who tells the truth, or tries to find it out, is an agent of the West. Historians who come to Russia are suspect if they want to find out anything that doesn’t glorify Russia. What else can you expect from a KGB man?