Officials in the Ural region of Russia have released a list of books which are to be banned and removed from local schools and colleges.
Works by two well-known British military historians are included on the list because they allegedly promote Nazi propaganda. John Keegan and his pupil Anthony Beevor both wrote about the Soviet invasion of Berlin in 1945 and the mass rape of German women by Russian soldiers, writes Alexey Eremenko for NBC News.
Banned books will be disposed of by authorities
News website E1.ru reports that local authorities have declared that the books “promote stereotypes formed during the Third Reich.” No details were provided as to how authorities would dispose of the books, and the regional education authorities could not be reached.
Book burnings by pro-Kremlin activists have been reported several times in the past few years. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also banned imports of food from the West, in retaliation to U.S. and EU sanctions imposed due to Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis. He ordered that smuggled food be incinerated last week.
The books were published in Russia by George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, which was recently blacklisted by Russian authorities. Soros’ foundation was one victim of a government crackdown on foreign non-governmental organizations which promote democracy.
Foreign NGOs victim of Russian government crackdown
Hungarian-born American tycoon Soros has overseen the work of the foundation, which has spent over $1 billion in Russia since 1993, according to Kommersant business daily. The money was largely used to support Russian education and academia.
Another NGO, the National Endowment for Democracy, was declared “undesirable” by Russian authorities last week. Pro-Western organizations are coming under increasing scrutiny as Russia rides a wave of patriotism stoked by Putin.
President Putin uses his control of state media to promote an image of the U.S. and its allies as corrupting influences on Russian culture, which must be protected at all costs. Relations between Russia and the West have deteriorated badly since Moscow annexed the Crimea in 2014.
Putin writes new law on foreign organizations
A law introduced in May governs the activities of “unwelcome” organizations and aims to control their activities in Russia. Activists are dissuaded from working with such organizations due to a system of fines, and possible jail terms, which could be imposed.
Pro-democracy and anti-Kremlin organizations are both facing a tough climate in Russia. Media companies are another example, and Google, Twitter and Facebook have been told that they could be shut down if they do not comply with government orders.
Authorities have asked the media companies to provide the names of bloggers that receive over 3,000 hits per day. It appears that the scheme is part of an effort to prevent mass protests by controlling the flow of information.
So-called “color revolutions,” or uprisings caused by mass protests, are of increasing concern in Russia. Plans were recently announced for a series of compulsory courses for college students, which would school them in ways of preventing color revolutions from occurring in Russia.
The Military Academy of General Staff also announced plans for an investigation into methods of preventing mass protests directed by foreign actors. Recent protests in former Soviet states appear to have spooked the Kremlin, and authorities are doing their utmost to prevent a similar event occurring in Russia.