Russia pictured as monster with claws on cartoon map for schoolkids causes stir in Netherlands

Photo by Michel Philipsen
A picture in a Dutch social studies textbook for 16-year-olds portrays Russia as a monster with claws and fangs trying to devour Ukraine, while Europe extends a helping hand.

Another image in the same text book also characterizes Russia as a ‘non-free’ country.

This picture, first published in a Dutch newspaper in early 2014, is placed in textbook’s Chapter 7 titled ‘Countries without democracy’. Pupils are asked to describe what's happening in the cartoon.

One of the questions students are asked is: “What is Russia doing, and what is Europe doing in this picture?”

The schoolbook is called ‘Themes in Social Studies 1’ and is intended for 15- to 16-year-old pupils’ ‘preparatory middle-level vocational education’. This textbook is updated on an annual basis, with the 2014-2015 version carrying, among others, pictures of President Barack Obama, the Pope and the winner of Eurovision 2014, Conchita Wurst.

The textbook also gives children a helping hand in understanding what countries are good or bad on a global scale, presenting a map where countries are painted in accordance with the ‘degree of freedom’. Countries like Russia and China are painted as ‘non-free’, while the EU member states and the US are pictured as the most liberated countries.

“I think it is highly biased from the Western point of view,” activist Ancilla Tilia told RT. “It is absolutely anti-Russian propaganda, which is ironic, because Russia is often accused of inspiring propaganda, but it seems that we’re not able to recognize that we are also being propagandized.”

Photo by Michel Philipsen

The images in the textbook went viral after one angry citizen shared it online.

“Since the end of the Second World War, anti-Russian propaganda in the Netherlands has been huge. Since the fall of the so-called Iron Curtain, it has shrunk a little,” Michel Philipsen, the man who posted the book's content online, told RT.

All Dutch news media share the same “anti-Putin, anti-Russia, anti-Communist bias, as if Russia was still a Communist country today,” he added.

The 'evil' Russia images triggered strong reactions on the Internet.

Some complained the propaganda is so blunt that it makes even the most gullible people suspicious.

While others suggested that anti-Russian propaganda in European textbooks is nothing new.

Some parents were also concerned that this kind of material could become more widespread.

Tilia believes the images in the school book are biased and not backed by facts.

“I think it’s definitely a way of demonizing Russia in this conflict, which is not new at all,” Tilia said.

A article written by Amari Roosclaims that regarding Russia ‘devouring’ Ukraine,“the truth is opposite to what Dutch children are being taught.”

While Russia sends tens of thousands of tons of humanitarian aid to the war-torn Donbass region of Ukraine, Europe sells Kiev authorities military supplies and arms – obviously to “prolong the 'devouring’ of Ukraine.”

“If I was a parent, I'd take a critical look at my children's study material and inform them of what truly goes on on this planet. The school system doesn't allow students to think critically, and rather spoon-feeds 'information' that is not backed up with facts,” concludes Roos.

Roos also remembers historic dialogue between the Dutch Prime Minister Rutte and President Vladimir Putin regarding liberties in Russia.

“Indeed, just imagine an organization appearing in Russia that supports pedophilia?! If that'd be the case, I think that in certain areas of the Russian Federation, people would get some guns...,” Putin said.