News / Europe

On Crimea, Russian Teachers Forced to Tout Official Line

FILE - A teacher leads a history lesson for seventh graders in the Russian village of Bolshie Khutora, about 440 km west of Moscow.
FILE - A teacher leads a history lesson for seventh graders in the Russian village of Bolshie Khutora, about 440 km west of Moscow.
It will take some time to revise Russia's history textbooks to reflect the annexation of Crimea. But that's not preventing the authorities from moving quickly to assure the country's school curriculum sticks to a politically - and patriotically - correct line on the issue.
 
In recent weeks, a new course titled "We Are Together" has been introduced in high schools throughout the country. The course presents the annexation as a "reunification of Crimea with Russia" - the exact phrase used by Russian authorities.
 
Officials from the ruling United Russia party, which is spearheading the educational campaign, have joined teachers to give lectures on patriotism as part of the course.
 
"As a former teacher, I understand that the events in Ukraine, Crimea, and Russia need to be clarified for students," Nikolai Bulayev, a State Duma deputy from the United Russia party, said in remarks reported by Russian media. 
 
"We need to explain the position taken by our president to them," Bulayev added.
 
'I am proud of my president'
 
During a lecture at School No. 28 in the city of Ulyanovsk, on the Volga River some 900 kilometers from Moscow, history instructor Lyubov Moskalyova is busy clarifying and explaining.
 
"Of course, not all states want to see a strong Russia that carries out its foreign policy according to its national interests," Moskalyova tells students as an official from the local mayor's office looks on.
 
"I am happy for Russia, I am proud of my president," she adds, her voice cracking with emotion.
 
The students appear bored and listlessly repeat memorized information about Crimea's economy, geography and history.
 
At another school, Ulyanovsk's Gymnasium No. 1, the class discussion is much livelier. 
 
One student, Yegor Tsvetkov says the annexation - which he obediently calls a "reunification" - is just a first step toward a Russian takeover of eastern Ukraine.
 
"A referendum should be conducted in [eastern Ukraine] to see what percentage of the population supports unification with Russia," Tsvetkov says. "I'm sure, an absolute majority would vote in favor."
 
Tsvetkov adds that he favors the use of military force and says he would be willing to fight to unify eastern Ukraine with Russia.
 
Another student, Arseniy, who gave only his first name, disagrees, adding that he has "increasingly negative" attitudes about the Crimean annexation.
 
"I support my country but I think the confrontation with the West is stupid," he says. "I hope there will be some kind of peaceful solution [for the crisis]."
 
Fears of brainwashing
 

Not all teachers, however, are enthusiastic about the new course. 
 
"This is outrageous. It's an outright brainwashing of children," says Tamara Eidelman, who teaches history at School No. 567 in Moscow.
 
Eidelman says important facts, like the mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars during World War II, have been left out of the course.
 
Eidelman says she "would teach the patriotism classes with great pleasure," but only if she could do it her way.
 
"I would tell the class what I really think," she says. "Possibly, that's why the [school administration] wouldn't ask me to teach patriotism," she says.
 
But amid today's patriotic frenzy, such opinions can be dangerous.
 
Mikhail Kopitsa, a history teacher in the northwestern city of Arkhangelsk, says he was reprimanded and required to write an official letter of explanation after criticizing Russia's military presence in Crimea.
 
"I see my role is to - at least slightly - counter the flood of propaganda coming from the media," Kopitsa says, adding that he is disturbed by what he describes as the "mindless" and "one-sided" patriotism prevalent in Russia today.
 
Written by Farangis Najibullah in Prague based on reporting by RFE/RL's Russian Service correspondent Lyubov Chizhova in Moscow. Sergei Gogin also contributed to this report from Ulyanovsk. The piece is republished here under a revised headline.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More