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

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs