Crimean Children are Deceiving by Russian Textbooks Full of Lies
Six years after Russian soldiers seized control of Crimea and the world had to resurrect the term annexation, last used about Adolf Hitler, in response, Crimean children are learning quite a different version of history. It is one in which Crimeans were the key players, not Russia, and in which Ukraine was the bad guy, along with those western countries who took its side, Kharkiv Human Rights Group reported.
According to correspondent Halya Coynash, while Russia’s aggressive militarization of Crimea and glorification of war among very young children are rightly eliciting enormous concern, the distortion of history that Russia is instilling from an early age creates a false reality in which such indoctrination becomes dangerously absolute.
Textbooks Full of Lies
Valentina Potapova, Head of the Almenda Centre for Civic Education, has collected just some of the examples of how Russian school textbooks present events in 2014, as well as a methodological guide for teachers from 2014.
There is no mention of Russian soldiers at all, nor of the armed paramilitaries whose abductions, torture and at very least one horrific murder were very widely reported by the world media.
Instead, children are told that “based on the results of a referendum (96% ‘for’), the peninsula on 21 March 2014 joined the Russian Federation. Crimea, whose territory had, without any grounds, been handed to Ukraine in 1954 by Nikita Khrushchev, returned to the Russian Federation”. The 11th-grade students do learn also that “governing circles in the USA, who supported the coup in Ukraine, assessed the situation that arose as Russian aggression against it [Ukraine] and introduced economic sanctions against our country”, with this reinstating Cold War American-Russian relations. It would be hard to imagine any but the most thinking of school students even understanding that they should delve deeper into why the sanctions were imposed. The lies about the pseudo-referendum of 16 March 2014 are repeated in every textbook and on state-controlled media, and are most unlikely to be understood as deception.
That this was very deliberate indoctrination is evident from the Methodological Handbook ‘Crimea in the History of Russia’, by K.A. Kochegarov, published in 2014. The material begins with the headline: “FOR EVER TOGETHER!” and a highly inaccurate account of the so-called ‘referendum’.
Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People Ignored
The same dubious statistics for over 90% support are presented, as well as claims about huge queues to vote throughout Crimea. No mention, of course, is made of the call by the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people to boycott the event, which is believed to have been widely heeded.
It is claimed that “the referendum took place in full accordance with the norms and principles of electoral law, in open, democratic circumstances.” People are alleged to have gone to vote as though to a festival, without any mention of the fact that Russian soldiers with machine guns and armed paramilitaries were stationed everywhere.
The author claims that his ‘festive’ and ‘democratic’ event was recognized as such “by international observers and representatives of very different media, including Western European and American”.
“War and Vengeance”
In August 2019, a new Russian textbook in verse for children claimed that Ukraine “has stirred up war and vengeance” and that people have been prohibited from speaking Russian.
The list of lies and distortions is too long to give in detail. This and similar narrative was used in 2014 to justify Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Now, the soldiers, the armed paramilitaries and the violation of international law have been omitted from textbooks, leaving the lies about Ukraine and myths about Crimea having always been part of Russia and Crimeans having clamoured to return to the fold.