‘Nobody faced persecution in the Soviet Union’ An excerpt from a student-made recording of one of Russia's new ‘patriotism’ lessons
The investigative news outlet iStories has published a transcript of a recording made covertly by students in a class from Russia’s new “patriotic” lesson series, Conversations About What’s Important, at a school in Moscow. The 13-minute recording was sent to journalists by the students themselves.
At the start of the clip, a teacher is heard asking students how they define patriotism and nationalism, as well as which value they personally identify more with. When the students don’t answer, the teacher tells them the story of a four-year-old boy who was killed by “nationalists” — a story she claims to have heard in the news from a soldier who took part in the “special military operation” in Ukraine. She then tells the students about the “reasons” for the war, praising Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.
Meduza is publishing an abridged translation of an excerpt from the transcript.
Teacher: They [Russian soldiers] stopped right in front of the village. The buildings where the so-called Ukrainian nationalists were holed up had been fortified. They hid in buildings that also housed civilians. And then he [a Russian soldier] recounts how a woman with a child jumped out of a window on the first floor and ran. Have you heard this story? What happened next?
The children say they haven’t heard it.
Teacher: They ran towards the Russians. Then what do you think happened? One of the nationalists shot the mom from inside the building. The little boy stood up next to his mom — he was about four years old. (The teacher starts to cry.) They shot him right in the head. I’ll just never understand it. What do we call these people? What word do we use?
The children are silent.
Teacher: I call those people nationalists. You all know perfectly well why the special [military] operation was launched. Why? All kinds of things are being written, but what do you believe? Is it an attempt by our country, Russia, to capture territory from Ukraine? Do we want that territory? Do we need it?
The children are silent.
Teacher: Russia doesn’t need any territory. We wouldn’t have gone to war if there weren’t Russians living there. Do you understand? There are people of Russian nationality living in Ukraine. We were part of the same country, and in those days, nobody thought too hard about where they would live. In our country, the Soviet Union, anybody could live in any republic. And nobody faced any persecution. And they [the Russians in Ukraine] ended up there; they live there now. But they also don’t especially want to leave their homes and move to Russia.
And in order to protect these Russians, at the request of those territories’ representatives, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin gave an order to begin military activity, to protect people. For eight years, Ukraine tried to make these people speak Ukrainian and forget Russian, firing on them. In my view, our president made the right decision.