Russian Textbook Controversy: Amnesty International Reveals Distorted Truth about War in Ukraine

2023-08-31 22:05:00

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Amnesty International is alerting this Friday to the content of the new Russian history textbook that high school students will have in hand this year in Russia. It “conceals the truth and distorts the facts about serious human rights violations”, especially in Ukraine, according to the NGO.

Published on 01/09/2023 00:05

Reading time: 2 min.

A copy of the new school textbook for high school students on general world history and Russian history, mentioning the country’s ongoing military action in Ukraine, August 7, 2023. (YURI KADOBNOV / AFP)

On the eve of the start of the school year, Amnesty International condemns the new Russian history textbook on Friday, September 1, legitimizing the country’s military strategy. For the NGO, it is a “blatant attempt to illegally indoctrinate Russian students and those in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories”.

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Amnesty International affirms that it is the pupils of high schools starting on September 1 who are concerned: “The manual – which is replete with official Russian propaganda cliches and attempts to justify Russia’s illegal actions from the annexation of Crimea in 2014 to the invasion of Ukraine in 2022 – will be a mandatory part of the program”.

The new manual, for example, describes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as“special military operation” and quotes Vladimir Putin as February 24, 2022, the day he ordered the operation. The president then said: “It is ultimately a question of life and death, the question of our historic future as a people.”

Retaliation for those who refuse to teach this program, according to the NGO

The NGO points out that the Russian school curriculum “was introduced in schools in occupied regions of Ukraine in September 2022” and that parents, teachers and students who refuse to follow it risk “to be victims of violence, arbitrary detention and ill-treatment”. Alina, a history teacher at Izium in Ukraine, told Amnesty researchers that during the months of Russian occupation she was afraid to teach Ukrainian history and hid her textbooks at home.

According to Anna Wright, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia researcher: “The manual conceals the truth and distorts the facts about serious human rights violations and crimes under international law, committed by Russian forces against Ukrainians”. She adds : “The indoctrination of children at a vulnerable stage of their development is a cynical attempt to eradicate Ukrainian culture, identity and heritage. It is also a violation of the right to education”.

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The NGO recalls that Russia is a member of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations and also a member of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In this sense, as “occupying power” of several regions of Ukraine that it controls, Moscow must therefore “respect, protect and fulfill the right to education and not violate this right by indoctrinating students with propaganda”.

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