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Sefer’s Open Letter in Connection With a Textbook by MSU Professors A.Barsenkov and A.Vdovin - "History of Russia. 1917-2009"

Center "Sefer" as an organization which has been dealing with academic Jewish studies in Russia and the former Soviet Union for quite a long period of time, feels obliged to express the attitude towards the third edition of the textbook “History of Russia. 1917-2009” prepared by MSU Faculty of History professors A. Barsenkov and A. Vdovin.

We share the approaches with scientists, experts and public figures, according to whom this textbook is written at a very low scientific level and contains xenophobic, chauvinistic and anti-Semitic views.

We strongly affirm that such a book cannot be used in teaching and educational process. In expert opinion, outspoken on September 6, 2010 during the RF Public Chamber Commission session on Inter-Ethnic Relations and Freedom of Conscience, the textbook prepared by the named professors of the History Department of Moscow State University was classified as "xenophobic, fake apology for dictatorship." We may say that we fully agree with this definition.

We, as well as many members of the professional community who for many years have been collaborating with the "Sefer", are outraged by approaches presented in this textbook regarding history of various national minorities in Russia. Xenophobic orientation is clearly seen in this manual and indicates professional inferiority of its authors. All this seriously disturbs scientists and experts. They are concerned by the fact that the material presented in this way not only seriously perverts the history of our land, but also can seriously complicate the ongoing interethnic and interfaith dialogue in Russia.

We know that the texbook is planned to be soon subjected to an expert appraisal  with representatives of various educational and scientific institutions. It is expected that expert opinion will be prepared by November 15 this year, and we sincerely hope that its results will block this textbook  the way to colleges and universities.

Center "Sefer" has an decided to post an open letter, stating that such a book cannot be used in teaching and educational process. The letter was signed by numerous representatives of the scientific community and public figures. We encourage anyone who thinks it is possible that the coverage of Russian history and its study was based on the principles of xenophobia, chauvinism, distortion and disregard of historical facts, to put signatures to the letter.

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