A Journal of Analysis and News
Russian Educational Publishing House ‘Erases’ Ukraine From Schoolbooks – OpEd
By Paul Goble
The Prosveshcheniye educational publishing house, headed by a Putin crony and once again dominating the school textbook market, has ordered its employees to drop as many references to Ukraine and Kyiv from the texts because in the words of one editor, “we must make it look as if Ukraine does not exist.”
The editors had been reducing mentions of Ukraine and Kyiv “to a minimum” since the 2014 Anschluss of Ukraine’s Crimea, the Zona news agency says; but on the day Putin launched his major invasion, word came down that they must reduce to a minimum any reference to Ukraine or Kyiv from now on (zona.media/article/2022/04/23/enlightenment).
The order has forced an additional 15 percent of all textbooks to be rewritten in the last two months. Editors have concluded that “if possible, it is better not to mention Ukraine at all.” About the only mentions possible are to Kyivan Rus and the liberation of the city during World War II.” Kyivan Rus has become Rus, and the word Kyiv is dropped altogether.
In a related development, Prosveshcheniye will release one textbook this year without the author’s name on the cover because “the author is a citizen of Ukraine and his surname is ‘obviously’ Ukrainian,” one editor says. His name is still listed in small print at the back but editors decided to remove it from the cover “just in case.”
The bosses at the publishing house are tightening the screws on more than just Ukraine. Earlier this month, they directed editors to remove all references to Facebook and Instragram from their work email signatures and banned reference to Meta, a company Moscow has declared to be extremist.
That last action led to an absurd situation: Because the publishing house using machine text reviews, such technology picked out “metabolism,” and some editors feared that would have to be removed. In the event, however, metabolism was saved. Another absurdity of this system concerned St. Isaav’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg.
Because the machine reader picked up the letters “kiev” in the Russian “isaakievskiy,” many assumed any reference to that landmark would be banned as well. Happily, at least so far, that has not happened.
Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .