Of course, there was a difference between the 1990s and the 2000s. Under Yeltsin, full acceptance of Western models and standards was accompanied by integration into the global world and a willingness to sacrifice everything for it, including sovereignty and independence. Standardisation thus went hand in hand with de-sovereignisation.

Under Putin, sovereignty was proclaimed as the highest value, but westernisation and standardisation continued. Apparently, following the example of Peter the Great, Putin decided to use Western technology to strengthen the country and, at some point, relying on these borrowed standards, to strike a hard blow. Peter himself opened a window to Europe for Russian cannons. At the same time, Peter was also breaking the Russian tradition, whereas Putin got a society in which the tradition was already broken.

If one accepts the hypothesis that Putin was pursuing a strategy of copying the Western system in the interest of strengthening Russian sovereignty, and there is no other intelligible hypothesis, then with the onset of the SMO came the moment of truth: it was time to counter-attack, the West, which had stubbornly tried to wrest Ukraine from us by deceiving and hypnotising the simpleton population of Little Russia, was hit. Again, there is a parallel with Peter: the battle of Poltava, which modern Russia has been stubbornly pursuing since February 2022. Everything fits together.

However, there is a difference between the 18th century and the 21st: modern Western technology is inextricably linked to ideology, technology itself carries a clear code of globalism and liberalism. Neither goods nor objects are ideologically neutral, let alone educational methods and academic disciplines, which modern Russia has slavishly copied over the past 30 years. At first it was a sign of defeat, then a 'cunning plan' to concentrate and prepare for a retaliatory attack. Now what to do with those elements, technologies and institutions that Russia has copied from the West Not just the education system, but everything else: information technology, financial institutions, cultural codes, market mechanisms, the globalisation of labour and energy supply, and even democracy itself, parliamentarianism, elections, human rights, in other words, everything...

After 30 years of dominance of this particular strategy, Russia has nothing, or almost nothing, of its own. The Bologna system is just a syndrome. In this problem, as in a mirror, we can see everything else.

So what to do with Western standards in a situation where the West has thrown us out and we have to give it a comprehensive civil response?

This is generally the main problem today. It has become so acute with the start of the special military operation and in turn our own victory depends directly on it. After all, even relations with Kiev, for all its madness since Maidan 2014, refer us back to this dilemma.

Moscow insists: be with us.

Kiev asks: where are you going, because we can decide with you or not with you?

Moscow answers: we are going towards the West, towards the global world, and that is why we are standardising everything. They have also introduced the Bologna system.

Kiev protests: if you go to the West, we go there too, we are closer, and now we will have the Bologna System.

Moscow starts to get angry: we will hurt you!

Kiev doesn't give up and talks about lard, 'heroes', visa-free travel and... Bandera. We all know this.

But it's all about answering Kiev's reasonable question: where are you going? If Russia goes to the West, all the other fraternal nations are perfectly capable of doing so on their own, without it. It is quite easy to translate Western textbooks and manuals from English or Chinese into Ukrainian, Kazakh, Tajik and even Chechen or Tatar. Russian as an intermediate is not necessary at all.

That is why under Yeltsin everyone ran away from us, but that is also why they do not rush towards us under Putin, because as long as we are still in the paradigm everyone wants to go to the West.

Today that slogan has collapsed. It turns out that we ourselves will not go, and the West not only does not wait for us, it hates us fiercely - hence the frenzied wave of Russophobia, inaugurated by the SMO.  But for 30 years we walked and said we were walking, to ourselves and others, in the direction of the West. Now the direction has become clear and SMO officials are quick to show themselves as radical patriots. Down with the Bologna system. Doesn't it all seem too easy, though?

First of all, we can and must do away with the Bologna system (we patriots have been fighting for this for a long time), but simply returning to the Soviet model is no solution at all, in fact it is impossible and useless. We need a clear ideology of education that corresponds to Russia as a civilisation, and as a civilisation that has challenged the West. Who among the officials of the Ministry of Education can think even for a moment about such serious issues? There are no such people in the wild.

Secondly, the Bologna system concerns the form of education, but does not affect the content at all. Returning to the specialised and Soviet standards and maintaining the liberal content of the core humanities is absolutely nonsensical. The Bologna system was designed to synchronise the liberalism and globalism of educational content with the forms of learning and assessment generally accepted in the West. Education is the main instrument of power over minds. It is no coincidence that over the past 30 years, liberals have trained an army of educators as agents of liberal influence. All Russian educational institutions, primarily the universities, are full of them. These were run by Western special services and actively supported by foundations associated with them, as in the case of Soros, but not only, and they paid the greatest attention to content, i.e. ideological paradigms. And this is not a question for bureaucrats. Nor, I fear, to Czechoslovaks, because what was their upbringing? A particular kind? Yes, patriotism was emphasised, but who took care of the ideological content? Once again, returning to the old Soviet cadres is not an option. These people are often respectable, but they understand the new world only partially, even if the ethical vector has been preserved. This, alas, is not enough.

Thirdly, even if we assume that the authorities realise the seriousness of the problem of sovereign education, formerly at the mercy of liberal agents, and are genuinely concerned about it, even then the problem cannot be solved without similar transformations in other areas. How is it possible to de-liberalise education and at the same time maintain Western liberal standards in all other spheres of life? The market, capitalism, digitisation, artificial intelligence, uncritical belief in scientific and technological progress, robotization, ultimately democracy, parliamentarianism, civil society and human rights are all copies of Western liberal standards and are so deeply rooted in society that the mere thought of having to eradicate them would horrify anyone in power, certainly not the people (who understand everything more clearly and simply).

This inevitably leads to ideological convulsions. Continuing to copy the West and its norms, standards and rules is no longer possible. We have been disconnected from the upgrade and, moreover, the flaws and patches embedded in the technology have already been activated to self-destruct and erase data. We relied on it and were legitimately disappointed. So we rushed desperately towards import substitution, under the pretense of building a modern West for us, equal but without LGBT+ people, or even with them but in a 'patriotic' version, loyal to the government.

Let's reject the damn Western Bologna system and implement our own 'Russian Bologna system', and so in everything. This is a very clever solution. Of course there is a way out, but the government must first make sure that what it is proposing today is not a rip-off at all. If we don't start thinking sovereignly, it will be a matter of translating the instruction manual for the hoover into Old Slavonic or tying a red tie to it.

I have convinced myself that it is completely useless and even perverse to give advice to people who do not need it and who, moreover, are convinced that they know everything themselves. We must therefore prepare ourselves for a game of mirrors: rejection of the Bologna system, rejection of the Bologna system, rejection of the Bologna system, and so on until the next period, for all other import substitutions. When this cycle is over, then we will talk seriously about education reforms. And not with just anyone.

Translation by Lorenzo Maria Pacini