News Brief

Myths are Integral to History According to Russia’s Education Minister

Mythology is a fundamental part of history according to Olga Vassileva, Russia’s Minister of Education. In an interview with the government information agency Interfax, Vassileva defended schools that teach a story of 28 Soviet soldiers who stood to their death as Hitler’s army advanced on Moscow in November 1941. Historians, both in Russia and the West, have long concluded that the story is not true, but the myth continues to be taught in many Russian schools and was recently backed by President Vladimir Putin himself, as he approved of a new film that dramatizes the story. “History, and teaching it—these are subjective things,” Vasilieva said during the interview.

Vasilieva was also asked about her view of Joseph Stalin, a figure that has recently been resurrected in Russia. New statues to Stalin have been erected in the past two years in several Russian cities.

Vasilieva says she holds Stalin accountable for his political repressions. “I usually call him a big politician with a big, big minus sign.”