Sunday, October 15, 2023

Moscow Promises to Change Paragraph on Deportations in New History Textbook

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 11 – Following widespread protests in the North Caucasus, one of the co-authors of the school textbook on the history of Russia says that Moscow will re-issue the book in time for the 2024-2025 school year with the paragraph on the deportations during Stalin’s time rewritten.

            The current version implies that Moscow deported these peoples because so many among them had cooperated with the Germans during World War II, a statement that is not only inaccurate but insulting and inflammatory (

            There had been suggestions Moscow was prepared to make some concessions on this point to satisfy the protesters ( But now, one of the co-authors, Anatoly Torkunov, says that paragraph will be changed by next year (

            He presented this decision as an entirely normal one, noting that even the most distinguished history textbooks in Russian history had been changed numerous times to reflect new information. But many have doubts that Moscow will carry through with its promises on this point.

            That is because some 755,000 copies of the textbook have been printed, and reprinting all of them would be costly. What seems most likely to happen is this: either an insert will be sent around or only new versions will be distributed in the regions where deportations happened and protests have occurred.

            If the first is the case, Moscow may face another problem, one that will recall what happened with the Bolshaya Sovietskaya Entsiklopedia after Beria was purged and killed. Then subscribers were sent a special article about the Bering Sea and told to cut out and destroy the offending pages on Beria and insert the new text.

            But if the second strategy is adopted, it will likely deepen the divides between Russians and non-Russians with the latter being encouraged to think that the North Caucasians are in fact traitorous and the North Caucasians recognizing in the age of the Internet that that is precisely what Moscow intends.

            In either case, what may seem like a small issue now is almost certainly going to grow into a larger one over the next year. 


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