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Russia May Revoke Approval of Textbook

November 28, 2003

MOSCOW (AP) _ Russia’s Education Ministry is debating whether to withdraw approval for a history textbook that implies freedom has been curtailed under President Vladimir Putin, news reports said Thursday.

A panel of experts at the ministry is analyzing author Igor Dolutsky’s high school textbook on 20th century Russian history and may decide to revoke its seal of approval, the Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Education Minister Viktor Bolotov as saying.

Withdrawal of the ministry’s seal would mean the book _ ``20th Century History of the Fatherland″ _ could no longer be used in classes as an official textbook, though teachers could still assign students to read it.

Dolutsky told the radio station Echo of Moscow that Education Minister Vladimir Filippov was angered by an exercise in the book in which students are asked to write passages supporting or attempting to refute statements.

According to Echo of Moscow, Dolutsky said the exercise includes a statement from a historian who said a coup took place after Putin’s 2000 election, and another from liberal lawmaker Grigory Yavlinsky, who is quoted as saying a police state took shape in Russia in 2001.

Bolotov said the textbook ``gives the impression that in the history of Russia there has not been a single bright moment, that there has been nothing good,″ according to Interfax.

The media reports about the textbook came on a day during which Putin met with historians at the Russian State Library and said that history textbooks ``should set out the facts of history (and) should foster a feeling of pride for the history of one’s country.″

Putin said it was good that the days when a single Marxist ideology was forced on students are over. But he added, ``it is impermissible to fall into the other extreme _ school and higher education textbooks must not become an arena for ideological and political battles.″

As president, Putin has celebrated Russia and its history, stressing its greatness. Critics say he has been intolerant of criticism and that freedom of speech and the media have suffered during his term.

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