In Russian Schools, It’s Recite Your ABC’s and ‘Love Your Army’

Yet it also wants to avoid fanning too high a patriotic flame, lest it push Russians to start questioning the purpose of the war. Much the way Mr. Putin has refrained from enacting multiple conscriptions of soldiers to avert prompting antiwar sentiment, the Kremlin has left parents some leeway to avoid propaganda lessons.

In that, they may be hoping to avoid the disconnect that emerged in the Soviet era, when the education system portrayed the country as the land of Communist plenty, even as ordinary Russians could see that the shelves were bare.

“They want enthusiasm, but they realize if they push too hard it could galvanize an organized opposition,” said Alexandra Arkhipova, a social anthropologist who studies public reactions to the war. “They do not want people to protest.”

Interviews over the past month with sociologists, educators, parents and students, and a review of extensive material online posted by the schools themselves and by local news outlets, show a comprehensive government effort to bolster military-patriotic content through all 40,000 public schools in Russia.

The cornerstone of the initiative is a program called “Important Conversations,” started last September. Every Monday at 8 a.m., schools are supposed to hold an assembly to raise the Russian flag while the national anthem is played, and then convene an hourlong classroom session on topics like important milestones in Russian history.

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