WENR, January/February 2004: Russia & The Commonwealth of Independent States
Russia & The Commonwealth of Independent States
History Texts to Be Re-evaluated
Minister of Education Vladimir Filippov announced in January that all history textbooks in Russia will be re-evaluated. According to the new policy, all history textbooks will be selected on competitive grounds and will not include “pseudoliberalism, aimed at misinterpreting our history,” Filippov said. He also noted that the ministry has introduced a new project concerning the need to develop special programs of general education for schoolchildren.
In December, President Vladimir Putin forwarded a letter to the Russian Academy of Sciences, asking the academy to examine history textbooks used in schools throughout Russia. Numerous complaints from World War II veterans served as a basis for the president’s letter. Some unofficial sources claim Kremlin officials are outraged by one particular textbook entitled, “Russian History of the XX Century,” which is said to paint a relatively negative picture of certain aspects of Russian history, and even asks students to debate whether President Putin is a dictator running a police state. The book was banned in November.
The Kremlin has been careful to create a popular mandate for the revision. According to the Kommersant newspaper, Putin writes in the letter: “I share the feeling and opinions of the veterans of the great patriotic war [World War II]. I order that in the shortest period of time scientists and historians be invited to consider the situation with history books for middle schools.”
Jan. 27, 2004
University Autonomy Seriously Questioned By Rector’s Resignation
The rector of a pioneering liberal arts university resigned in November in a bid to spare the institution from radical restructuring by the Ministry of Education. Leonid Nevzlin, a close associate of an embattled oil executive, cut ties with Russian State University for the Humanities after Education Minister Vladimir Filippov threatened to reorganize the university and install a rector of his choosing.
The university’s governing board had refused to fire Nevzlin. But the highly regarded state university, which in 1991 grew out of the former Moscow State Institute for History and Archives, ultimately would have been powerless against a ministry edict, so Nevzlin opted to quit rather than drag his supporters and the university down with him.
Filippov ostensibly sought to replace Nevzlin because he was running the university in absentia from Israel, where he had sought citizenship. Some believe the rector’s relocation is related to investigations in Russia of his associates. Of particular concern for the government is Nevzlin’s holdings in the YukosSibneft oil company and his close association with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head of the company who was arrested in November. Nevzlin’s links to YukosSibneft, not his administrative shortcomings, are widely seen as the real reason for his departure from the university.
Nevzlin was named rector on June 17, shortly after YukosSibneft pledged to give US$100 million over 10 years to the university. Private financial support on such a scale is unprecedented in Russia, and the pledge enabled the university to double both faculty salaries and student stipends, as well as to create new majors. The recent events carry a degree of irony — the university was founded in a spirit of openness, respect for individual rights and freedom from manipulation by the state.
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Dec. 12, 2003
Dec. 12, 2003
Business Looking Up for British MBA Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs from business schools in the United Kingdom rushed off en masse to Moscow in September, drawn by the growing strength of the Russian economy, to advertise their wares. The growth, they were told by officials at the British Council’s education exhibition, was 4.3 percent in 2002. In addition, they learned that the wealthiest third of Muscovites have as much purchasing power as the wealthiest third of Swedes. Russia is getting near what financiers call “investment grade,” according to the council, in part because of the Iraq war, which has pushed up the price of Russian oil, and in part because of favorable exchange rates.
Approximately 66,000 young Russians have taken courses in Britain over the past five years; 13,500 were expected to study there in 2004, and a sizeable proportion of them were planning to work on their master’s in business administration. Open University has had 24,000 Russian students, most of them studying business. Some business schools run their MBA programs in Russia, including Open, Herriot Watt and Middlesex universities. Others recruit Russian students to the United Kingdom. Loughborough University has an agent in Moscow who recruits students and guides them through the process of getting a visa and arranging to live in the the UK. It’s a pattern used by several universities, and one agent often serves more than one institution.
Oct. 16, 2003
Oct. 16, 2003