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Putin’s Schoolbook Depository

The Grey Lady updates a Bloomberg report on propaganda and censorship in Russian schools and media.

In the education sector, Brazil and Russia exhibit many features in common, including not infrequent assaults on editorial independence and a state-friendly monopoly with ideological overtones and a surplus of favors owed.

The remaking of Russia’s textbook industry features a murky trail of transactions that dead-ends in the opaque offshore tax haven of Cyprus, and a cast of characters including a federal lawmaker from the party loyal to Mr. Putin and the software giant Microsoft, which recently signed an agreement with Enlightenment to help it provide Windows-based tablets to Russian schools.

Both the OLPC and the Microfsoft Enciclomedia started out in pursuit of this noble cause, and both failed. At one point, Enciclomedia machines were found in Tijuana being reengineered as one-arm bandits. Systems came to be installed in villages without electricity or bandwidth.

That deal came after Mr. Rotenberg, along with other close Putin friends, had been targeted by international sanctions stemming from Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Enlightenment’s story also traces, in miniature, the arc of the Russian economy over the last quarter century, from Soviet state ownership, to privatization, to what might be called the theater of state-sponsored private enterprise that flourishes today under Mr. Putin.

The zaibatsu to come —  or is it the keiretsu (系列?  —

In  theory, market competition exists. In reality, the Kremlin and its functionaries have divvied up the nation’s strategic industries among a small and malleable circle of allies. They command some of the nation’s largest energy companies, control banks and much of the media, and, increasingly, have a footprint in smaller sectors, like book publishing, that are nonetheless important to Mr. Putin’s political control.

Ática and Scipione are two emerging textbook publishers of the Group Abril with an aggressive marketing effort that, boiled down, recalls the CAC — the “hunt for communists” of the 1970s, a period in which the newsweekly stood up to government’s prior censorship of its content.  See

To celebrate Teacher’s Day, Ática e Scipione are launching the Twitter hashtag #DesafioEducarTransforma in the social networks. Its goal is to invite elementary and middle school students to acknowledge the teacher as an agent of transformation who stimulates the intellectual, emotional, social and cultural of young persons. Students should follow the fan page @aticascipione on Facebook and celebrate a professor who made a difference in his or her life. The most popular and most shared will win an Xbox One and the teacher so honored will receive a Tablet Ipad Air – 16GB Wifi.