School exercise books with a portrait of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin on the cover are causing controversy in Russia.
Critics say that featuring the leader looking proud and wearing an army uniform studded with medals wrongly instills a positive image in children’s minds.
Olga Utesheva from the “Moscow House of Books”, where the books have gone on sale, disagrees.
“The books show that such a person existed and explain what was going on during his time in our country – what was bad and what was good. Providing an assessment is absolutely not our role. That’s probably a subjective opinion for each individual,” she said.
The books are part of a series called “Great Russians” and place Stalin among famous composers and tsars.
Historians have noted a trend to view Stalin more positively since Vladimir Putin came to power.
Co-chairman of Moscow Memorial, a history and human rights society, Jan Rachinsky explained:
“It’s not the first attempt to bring into school and education these relics of Stalinism, which have unfortunately been preserved in our country, and which present an attitude that the state is superior to ordinary human life.”
Stalin ruled the Soviet Union for over three decades and is remembered for being responsible for the deaths of millions of his own citizens, but he is also highly regarded by some for having led the country to victory in World War II.