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Home News Kazakhstan recalls school textbooks after spat with Ukraine

Kazakhstan recalls school textbooks after spat with Ukraine

Published on 01/10/2015

Ex-Soviet republic Kazakhstan has recalled a series of school textbooks that Ukraine said acknowledged Crimea as part of Russia following complaints from Kiev.

At the centre of the controversy are textbooks for secondary school students in the Central Asian nation that said Crimea had become part of Russia in 2014 after a popular referendum.

The textbooks failed to mention that few countries recognised Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Kazakhstan, one of Russia’s strongest allies, moved to recall the schoolbooks after they drew a strong protest from Kiev.

Last week the Ukrainian embassy in Kazakhstan said the explanation provided in the textbooks “contradicted the official position” of Astana.

The text “bears witness to the fact that, unfortunately, a certain part of Kazakhstani society is deeply infected by Russian propaganda,” the embassy said.

Kazakhstan’s education ministry said on Wednesday that information on the peninsula in the textbooks did not “fully represent the position of Kazakhstan and the international community on the issue of Crimea.”

The statement was released ahead of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s meeting with Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko in the capital Astana on October 9.

Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea, ex-Soviet Kazakhstan has walked a diplomatic tightrope, saying that it recognizes both the results of the Crimea referendum and Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Many in Kazakhstan were offended last year when Russian President Vladimir Putin said the energy-rich country had not had statehood before its independence from the former Soviet Union.

In a move many saw as a riposte to Putin, Astana this year rolled out colourful celebrations marking 550 years of statehood, linking modern-day Kazakhstan to a nomadic warrior state that existed on its territory into the 18th century.

The publisher behind the controversy, Mektep, told AFP in emailed comments on Thursday that the textbooks would be “adjusted in accordance with the decision of the ministry of education and science.”

Changes will be made at the publisher’s expense, it said.