News Brief

Why Russian Lawmakers Say Ukraine’s Uprising Was A ‘Bloody Coup’

A Russian school textbook which describes Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan uprising as a “revolution” has been withdrawn by the country’s science ministry, for what it called “additional review.”

It is the latest example of the Russian authorities seeking to censor educational materials or other publications that do not conform to official narratives of both recent and historical events, including World War II.

The book, entitled “Russian History: from the beginning of the 20th century to the beginning of the 21st century,” has been recalled pending an official review.

It first came under scrutiny last year from senators in the upper house of Russia’s parliament, the Federation Council. One senator read out a passage from the textbook, highlighting its use of the phrase “revolution beginning in Kiev” to describe the protests that forced Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, from power in February 2014. The chairwoman of the Federation Council, Valentina Matvienko, condemned the wording as “provocative,” saying the correct term would be a “bloody coup.”

The Rossiya 1 state television anchor, Dmitry Kiselyov, often called Russia’s chief spin doctor, has also attacked the textbook, for its handling of World War II, known as the “Great Patriotic War” in Russia. In one of his regular programs, he, criticised the book’s mention of the execution of soldiers who attempted to retreat during the 1942-1943 Battle of Stalingrad, as well as the large number of deaths from hunger and exposure.

Kiselyov said Russia needs “an absolutely monolithic position” on the war. Divergent points of view, he added, are part of a “hostile, post-truth Russia.” It’s all in line with an increasingly rigid Kremlin position on the country’s history, which permits only one heroic narrative on the past.

As Coda has reported, even the efforts of individuals to investigate their family history have been restricted as part of this official drive. Earlier this month, a Russian historian who has devoted his life to documenting the victims of Stalin’s purges was ordered to undergo psychiatric testing.

A final decision on the textbook’s fate is due at the end of the month, after a review by the Russian Academy of Science.