Saturday, April 28, 2012

Stalin Back in school notebooks

The publication of school notebooks with the portrait of Joseph Stalin has provoked outrage from politicians and Russian historians, which require the Government to remove them from the bookshops, where they have achieved record sales.

"Stalin in school notebooks? Absurd, clumsy and inept. The one who has the idea must buy it for his children," said the veteran singer and actor Mikhail Boyarski, who was born in 1949, when dictator still going with iron hand the Soviet Union.

The guides, which reached the shelves last month, belong to a series dedicated to famous people of the history of Russia and Catherine the Great, Sergey Rachmaninov the composer or the father of the Soviet space program, Sergei Korolyov.

"How can we exclude Stalin from a list of historical figures? Like it or not, had a significant role in the twentieth century," said Artiom Bilan, artistic director of the editorial "Alt" published notebooks.

However, what has most outraged detractors is that the cover is submitted to communist tyrant in a gilt frame as the "Generalissimo" with a military jacket full of badges as Hero of the USSR and the Order of Lenin .

"When children see that picture with him so handsome, with his mustache, medals, all surrounded by gold, as a hero. This is a clear example of amorality," denounced the journalist and historian Nikolai Svanidze.

Indeed, the 48-page book dedicated to Iosif Dzhugashvili (Stalin) on the back cover includes a short biography and several photos from his period of clandestine revolutionary leader and communist.

"The college kids and even Russians do not know who Stalin. Therefore, we not only try to sell as many copies, but also to contribute to the knowledge of history," argued Bilan.

The text recognizes that Stalin "is one of the most controversial figures in Russian history and world": "For some it is almost the same demon and others is the greatest leader of all time."

"In total, during Stalin's years in office were shot (...) More than 640,000 people, 2.4 million were sent to the Gulag and deported 760,000" reads.

The pictures also expose both sides of the character: a photo of Stalin with his daughter, pictures of the hardships endured by the people during Stalinist industrialization and notorious labor camps.

"It's not an apology or a eulogy. Stalin's methods were insane, but you can not compare to Hitler. We expected some criticism, but not a big controversy. The books are not for primary but for secondary" said Bilan .

Russian Education Minister Andrei Fursenko, described the books as a "negative phenomenon" but added that it lacks authority to order the requisition of the libraries.

"What I can do? Who can do anything? The books are not even a manual. If not contradict the law, anyone can post whatever he wants. The law prohibits pornography and Nazi symbols," he said.

However, some politicians and writers believe that the ministry itself may adopt a rule that prevents the publication in a positive context and heroic portrait of a historical figure who is considered an "executioner" of millions of innocents.

Among the most criticized notebooks are several members of the Public Chamber, a consultative body of the Kremlin, and human rights organizations such as Memorial, which advocates the rehabilitation of Soviet reprisals.

"This is, of course, Stalinist propaganda. Stalin played a terrible in our history. A student makes a math problem or study geography, as has before Stalin. This has an enormous influence on your subconscious," said Arseniy Roguinski, Memorial historian.

In this regard, Bilan said that the publisher has no intention to suspend the marketing of books, the more that the controversy has increased sales.

"Neither the Public Chamber and Memorial are legislative bodies to require us to withdraw our product from the market. If decided by the Duma (Lower House), would be the end of freedom of expression in Russia," he said.

The sale of notebooks has skyrocketed since the outbreak of the dispute, so the Moscow libraries have been forced to increase the number of orders.

"When I saw the television report was angry, but seeing the sales pace, crossed my anger," said one of the employees of the bookstore chain "Moskovskiy Knigui Sun" where the famous book has become " sales leader "thanks to interest from the adults, not children.

No comments :