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ITAR-TASS, Moscow, Russia, Friday, December 19, 2008 

RIA Novosti, Moscow, Russia, Friday, December 19, 2008
Interfax Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, 18 December, 2008  
Reuters, Moscow, Russia, Thursday, December 18, 2008
Holodomor: "I am categorically against bringing this topic into the dimension of ethnocide."
Rossiya TV, Moscow, Russia in Russian 1700 gmt 14 Dec 08
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Sunday, December 14, 2008 
The Russians and the Holodomor, their hard ideological line and distorted historical realities.
By Volodymyr Serhiichuk, Professor and Doctor of History
The Day Weekly Digest in English, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Commentary & Analysis: By Irena Chalupa
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Prague, Czech Republic, Dec 09, 2008
Ukraine's famine survivors still bear the emotional scars.
By Iryna Shtogrin, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)
Prague, Czech Republic, Monday, December 08, 2008

ITAR-TASS, Moscow, Russia, Friday, December 19, 2008 
UNITED NATIONS - Russia blocked Ukraine-initiated UN resolution claiming Holodomor in the Soviet Union in early 1930s was famine-genocide aimed against Ukrainians, rather than a common tragedy of many nations in the country.

“We succeeded to bloc the inclusion of the item into the agenda of the current UN General Assembly,” Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said on Thursday, adding the United States and Great Britain backed the Ukrainian motion, which “ended in nothing.”

Churkin said Russian representatives were active in explaining the history of Holodomor to foreign partners. As a result, nine EU countries did not sign the Ukrainian declaration, although “EU members usually act in a consolidated manner”, according to Churkin. “An overwhelming majority supported the Russian position,” the ambassador said.

He described the Ukrainian initiative to portray Holodomor as genocide against Ukrainians as “an attempt to sow mistrust and hostility between the Russians and Ukrainians. We have a common past and the famine in the ‘30s hit not only Ukraine. Therefore, we (Russia) do not plan to apologize and call it genocide,” he said.
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RIA Novosti, Moscow, Russia, Friday, December 19, 2008

UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations General Assembly has refused for the second time this year to include discussions on Ukraine's 1932-1933 famine, which Kiev wants recognized as an act of genocide, in the agenda of the current UN session.

In late 2006 Ukraine's parliament recognized the Stalin-era famine known as Holodomor as an act of genocide by the Soviet authorities, but Russia has
consistently rejected Ukraine's interpretation of events.

Russia's UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said after the decision: "this campaign has ended, and ended with nothing." He said Russia had voted against Ukraine's attempts to introduce the issue to the agenda of the 63rd UN General Assembly session, as it did at the session in July.

After the refusal, Ukraine circulated a declaration among the UN members, which according to Churkin was signed by 32 out of 192 member states.

Russia says the famine cannot be considered an act targeting Ukrainians, as millions of people from different ethnic groups lost their lives in various
territories across the Soviet Union - in the North Caucasus, the Volga region, central Russia, Kazakhstan, west Siberia, and the south Urals.

"The Ukrainian government has declared this to be an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people, and is politicizing this issue. We take this as an attempt to bring distrust and hostility into our relations, and to spark a dispute between the peoples of Ukraine and Russia," the Russian diplomat said.

Historians' estimates as to the number of victims in Ukraine during the famine, caused by forced collectivization, vary greatly, ranging from 2 million to 14 million.

Speaking at a ceremony to unveil a memorial in a village in western Ukraine, one of the areas hardest hit by the famine, President Viktor Yushchenko said
last month that "Ukraine does not blame any nation or state for the great famine," but that the "totalitarian Communist regime" was responsible.
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Interfax Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, 18 December, 2008  
MOSCOW - The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) archives do not contain any documents that could suggest that Ukrainian people might have been subject to genocide during the famine in the southern part of the Soviet Union in the 1930s, Gen. Vasily Khristoforov, head of the FSB registration and archives department, said in an interview with Interfax on Thursday.

"Researchers, and not only Russian ones, have proven incontrovertibly that famine did take place in the USSR in 1932-1933. Yes, it did, but not only in Ukraine. Archive documents show undeniably that there was no purposeful genocide against Ukrainian people. We have not found a single instruction that would have even hinted about purposeful genocide against Ukrainian people," Khristoforov said.

A large amount of FSB archive documents related to this problem have been handed over to Russian and foreign researchers, Khristoforov said. All these documents have been published, he said.

"The Holodomor [the definition given in Ukraine to the 1932-1933 famine in the former USSR] is a Ukrainian invention. Ukraine is trying to prove that the 1930s famine was an act of genocide the Stalin leadership committed against Ukrainians," he said.

Khristoforov argued that, while the situation in the Soviet agricultural sector in the late 1920s and early 1930s was difficult, people suffered not only in Ukraine but also in Kazakhstan, the Volga area, the Krasnodar territory, and the North Caucasus.

"I am against attempts to gamble on the numbers of the victims. Ukraine has been inflating the number of these casualties from year to year. This is at least incorrect," Khristoforov said.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Reuters, Moscow, Russia, Thursday, December 18, 2008

MOSCOW - A general in Russia's intelligence agency has dismissed as an "invention" Ukraine's call for recognition of a 1930s famine as genocide after Kyiv urged the Kremlin to join in commemorations for millions of dead.

The row over the "Holodomor", or famine of 1932-33, in which historians believe 7.5 million died, is one of many pitting the Kremlin against Kyiv's pro-Western leaders swept to power by mass Orange Revolution rallies in 2004.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stayed away from ceremonies to mark the 75th anniversary of the calamity last month and accused Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko of distorting history for political gain.

The two ex-Soviet states are also at odds over payment for Russian gas supplies and Kyiv's drive to secure NATO membership.

"The Holodomor is a Ukrainian invention," General Vasily Khristoforov, head of registration and archives department at the Federal Security Service (FSB), told the Interfax news agency. "Ukraine is trying to prove that the 1930s famine was an act of genocide the Stalinist leadership committed against Ukrainians.

"Archive documents show undeniably that there was no deliberate genocide against the Ukrainian people. We have not found a single directive that would have even hinted about deliberate genocide against the Ukrainian people."

Researchers, Khristoforov told the agency, had proven beyond all doubt that a famine in the late 1920s and 1930s did grip various southern Soviet regions.
"Yes, it did, but not only in Ukraine," he said.

Many of the darkest secrets from the Soviet era remain in the archives of the FSB, the main successor to the KGB intelligence service that played a central role in Moscow's efforts to enforce the communist system.

About a dozen countries have recognized the Holodomor, one of three famines to hit Ukraine last century, as genocide.

Addressing a gathering last month at the opening of a monument to the famine, Yushchenko denied any suggestion Russia was to blame for the famine. But he called on Moscow to denounce Stalinism and join in commemorations for the dead.

Millions were left to starve in their homes throughout Ukraine as Soviet authorities trying to bring independent farmers to their knees imposed impossible harvest quotas and requisitioned grain and livestock.  Soviet authorities denied for decades that the famine had even occurred.
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Holodomor: "I am categorically against bringing this topic into the dimension of ethnocide."
Rossiya TV, Moscow, Russia in Russian 1700 gmt 14 Dec 08
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Sunday, December 14, 2008 

The newly elected Ukrainian parliament speaker, Volodymyr Lytvyn, was interviewed on state-owned Russian television channel Rossiya's "Vesti Nedeli" news and current affairs programme on 14 December. Lytvyn answered questions on the current political situation in Ukraine and Russian-Ukrainian relations. How do you feel being elected speaker for the second time?

"Let me tell you frankly, it is quite difficult, because there is an attempt today to break up the parliament and take Ukraine to elections in the conditions of the deepening crisis," Lytvyn said.When will the collation agreement be signed?
"The document [on setting up a coalition of Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defence and the Lytvyn Bloc] has been ready for a long time. The problem is that, as I learnt today, the president of Ukraine does not support the creation of the coalition," Lytvyn said.
"I had a long meeting and conversation with the president. Very regrettably, the standoff between the president and the prime minister is quite tense, and society, the country and people remain hostages to this standoff", he added.
"The [parliament's] conciliatory council has decided to recommend the Ukraine's Supreme Council to consider the report of the investigative commission next week, on Friday, in order to set the record straight on the matter. This decision, in essence, was supported by representatives of all factions. I think this will bring clarity. I am deeply convinced that everything should be done today to establish a normal dialogue between Ukraine and Russia", Lytvyn said.Ban on Russian TV channels

"Obviously, my attitude to this is negative. There can be no ambiguity about it. I believe that people should have the possibility to receive comprehensive information in which they are interested and draw relevant conclusions. Therefore, especially in the conditions of a crisis, when there is no bread, and people feel that their rights are being infringed in the information space too, this creates a sort of cumulative negative charge. I am categorically against this.
This issue has already been raised. I think that we will thoroughly study this issue at the level of Ukraine's Supreme Council and we will offer our recommendations", Lytvyn said.
"I am categorically against splits that will not leave Ukraine unaffected, I mean splits with Russia in religious matters as well. As regards the topic of Holodomor [the famine of 1932-33] as such, I am categorically against bringing this topic into the dimension of ethnocide. What is being done in Ukraine with respect to this topic is intended for export. I think it would be important for politicians to listen to scientists. The manner in which this topic is being bumped up in Ukraine, it is turning into a farce", Lytvyn said.
Will you run for president? "I do not see grounds to raise the issue of an early presidential election in the political context today", Lytvyn said. "A headache should be treated when one has it. We shall see how it works out", he added.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
The Russians and the Holodomor, their hard ideological line and distorted historical realities.
By Volodymyr Serhiichuk, Professor and Doctor of History
The Day Weekly Digest in English, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Once Empress Catherine II felt she was sitting firmly on the Russian throne, she immediately instructed Prince Viazemsky to take a number of certain steps to force Ukrainians “to get Russified in a delicate way” as soon as possible. Just a hundred years later Russia’s interior minister Valuyev considered it necessary to persuade the entire world that “there were not, are not and cannot be” any Ukrainians.

I recalled this when I read the book "The 1932-1933 Famine: a Tragedy of the Russi­an Count­ry­side" by the Penza-based professor of history Viktor Kondrashin, which was recently published in Moscow.
This author, who decided to study the 1932-1933 famine in the Volga, Don and Kuban regions, failed to see there the Ukrainians who were the main grain-growing trail-blazers at least in the two last areas: “The Russians, Mord­vins, Tatars, Ingushes, and other peoples lived then and are living now in the above-mentioned regions of Russia.
At the same time, this study puts emphasis on the Russian population of the Volga, Don and Kuban areas because, historically, it was they who were involved in grain production and, therefore, became the primary object of Stalin’s forced collectivization” (p. 51 in Russian).

Why Kondrashin wants to convince the readers that there were no Ukrainians in these regions from the very beginning of cultivation and farming and does not consider them “historically involved in grain production” becomes clear from the panegyric that the author dedicates to himself in his own book: “V. V. Kondrashin actively opposes in the media and scholarly publications, including foreign ones, the idea of Ukrainian historians and politicians about ‘genocide of the Ukrainian people by the 1932-1933 Holodomor.’ He concludes in his publication son this matter that the 1932-1933 famine is a common tragedy of all the USSR peoples and this tragedy should unite, not disunite, the peoples” (p. 29, Russ.).

Given this self-assessment of the author, it is small wonder why he did not consider it necessary to mention Ukrainians among the main agricultural ethnoses in the Volga, Don and Kuban regions. But they really lived there. According to the 1926 census, Ukrainians prevailed, for example, in all the 40 Kuban villages (stanitsas) founded by the first Zaporozhian Cossack resettlers in the late 18th century: Ba­tu­ryn­ska (5,034 Ukrainians out of the total 7,086 residents), Be­re­zanska (9,297 and 10,443, respectively), Briukhovetska (9,698 and 12,466), Vasiurynska (9,142 and 10,443), Vyshestebliivska (2,400 and 3,251), Dinska (10, 316 and 12,525), Diadkivska (6,665 and 7,324), Ivanivska (12,983 and 14,209), Irkliivska (5,884 and 6,473), Kanivska (13,878 and 17,248), Kal­ni­bo­lotska (8,606 and 10,998), Katerynynska (11,824 and 13,391), Kisliakivska (11, 416 and 13, 112), Konelivska (7,824 and 8,7121), Korenivska (9,313 and 15,548), Krylivska (8,146 and 9,427), Kushchivska (9,364 and 11,865), Medvedivska (15,222 and 18,146), Ne­za­ma­ivska (10,150 and 12,133), Pa­sh­kiv­ska (14,166 and 18,000), Pereyaslavska (7,552 and 8,781), Plastunivska (10,528 and 12,375), Platnyrivska (11,628 and 13,925), Poltavska (10,985 and 14,306), Po­po­vychivska (7,762 and 10,715), Rogivska (10,806 and 12,475), Sergiivska (4,127 and 4,714), Sta­ro­de­re­vian­kivska (6,529 and 7,230), Sta­ro­dzhe­reliivska (5,158 and 5,413), Starokorsunska (10,477 and 12,273), Staroleushkivska (5,857 and 6,521), Staromenska (19,736 and 22,604), Sta­­ro­my­sha­stivska (8,171 and 9,826), Sta­ro­nyzh­chestebliivska (11,356 and 12,273), Starotytarivska (8,552 and 9,536), Staro­shcher­bynivska (14,453 and 17,001), Ty­ma­shevska (8,961 and 12,112), Umanska (17,008 and 20,727), and Shkurynska (8,864 and 9,749).

On the whole, there were 915,450 Ukrainians in Kuban and 3,106,852 in the Northern Cau­ca­sus. So we find it difficult to understand the famine in these villages as a tragedy of “the Russian countryside” alone. All the more so that Kondrashin names such Kuban districts as Yeysky, Kanovsky, Kjorenivskt, Kra­sno­darsky, Staromensky and Kur­sav­sky in the Stavropol region as ones that make part of the “especially affected” areas of the Northern Caucasus.

Of course, this is also presented as a tragedy of the Russian countryside. However, the 1926 census recorded 74,037 Uk­rai­nians and 23,568 Russians in Yesky district; 45,451 and 8,130, respectively, in Kanivsky; 76,422 and 36,939 in Ko­re­niv­sky; 103,8312 and 18,086 in Kraskodarsky; 65,488 and 9,583 in Staromensky; and 57,665 and 8,767 in Kursavsky district.
After all, we are also not indifferent to the destiny of the 35,115 Ukrainians in the Kondrashin-quoted Armavisrsky district and the 11,514 in Kurganinsky district, where the Russians numerically prevailed at the time.

Similar facts of ethnic Uk­rai­nian enclaves during the 1932-1933 Holodomor can also be traced in the Don and Volga regions. In the latter, there were 49 percent of our ethnos in Kapustin Yar district, 51.9 in Yelansky, 69.3 in Kotovsky, 72.4 in Kranoyarsky, 74.9 in Pokrovsky, 79.3 in Samiylivsky, 81 in Mykolayivsky, and almost 90 in Vladirirsky district.
According to the 1926 census, the Lower Volga region alone was populated by 600,000 people who continued to identify themselves as Ukrainians. Some of them did not even speak Russian, which is proved by the following fact: failure to meet the planned targets of grain harvest in 1929 in Dubynsky district was explained by the fact that “Ukrainian slogans on grain procurement were apprehended in the district executive committee, and Russian-language placards were sent to the Uk­rai­nians.”

As for the Ukrainian population in the Don region, there was also a large number of areas, where our people made up the absolute majority. This was especially the case in some Taganrog districts. And the 1932-1933 Holodomor took a heavy toll of all these Ukrainians.

But we should admit that the Kuban Ukrainians were the first to suffer from this horror. And we cannot help recalling the village of Poltavska whose population favored the development of their native culture and where there was the first All-Russian Ukrainian Teacher-Training School. Its population was the first to be deported to the north, its houses were given to Red Army Cossack veterans, and it was renamed Krasnoarmeyska so that nothing betrayed its Ukrainian origin.
The second Ukrainian village in Kuban that suffered the same tragedy was Umanska. After the deportation, it was renamed Leningradska.
Incidentally, we could not find similar Kremlin instructions with respect to Rus­sia’s non-black-soil area which also failed to meet the grain procurement targets.

Indeed, this did not repeat on a mass scale in Soviet Ukraine because in many cases there was nobody to deport: entire villages had died out. There are documents that prove that a great number of Russians and Be­la­ru­sians were brought to hundreds of the famine-ravaged Ukrainian villages.

As for the “black boards,” they were introduced not only in Kuban, Don, the Central Black Soil Region, the Volga basin and the Ukrainian SSR but also in Northern Ka­zakh­stan on the republican leadership’s initiative. But if we look at the list of the villages that suffered this kind of punishment, we will see at once that they were predominantly populated with Ukrainian peasants.
For example, such villages in Ust-Ka­me­nogorsk or Fedorivsky districts were mostly Ukrainian because the Uk­rai­ni­ans were the principal grain producers in this region. For instance, the 1926 census sho­wed that out of the 28,302 residents of the Fe­dorivsky district 25,408 were Uk­rai­nians.

When you read the Penza historian Kondrashin’s book, you can see clearly that he tries, above all, to serve the current political interests of Russia, which consist in the refusal to recognize the 1932-1933 Ho­lo­do­mor as genocide of the Ukrainian people: “We do not support the opinion of Ukrainian po­liticians and historians about the national genocide in Ukraine by means of the 1932-1933 famine.
Nor do we agree with their definition of ‘holodomor’ as an action organized by the Stalinist regime inn order to exterminate millions of Ukrainian residents... We do not share the Ukrainian side’s position because no documents have been found, which would say that Stalin’s regime intended to eliminate the Ukrainian people.”

This raises a question to Kondrashin: and what about the directive documents on stopping the Ukrainization in the areas densely populated by Ukrainians (nothing of the kind was done against other nations in 1932-1933)? Do they not prove that Stalin’s regime aimed to exterminate, at least spiritually, millions of Ukrainians?
And the fact that the 1939 census showed that the Uk­rainian population of what is now Krasnodar Territory had diminished by 1,437,151 people in comparison to 1926? Does it not make the historian Kondrashin think that there was a carefully-orchestrated strike against the Ukrainian nation?

And the VKP Central Com­mit­tee and USSR Council of People’s Commissars resolution of January 22, 1933, on forbidding only Ukrainian and Kuban peasants to go to other regions in search of bread? Does this not prove that Ukrainians were deliberately left to starve to death? Then how should we interpret the following comment of Kon­dra­shin: “What can be called direct organization of the famine are draconian directives of Stalin-Molotov on the prevention of spontaneous migration of peasants, which kept them locked in the starving villages and doomed them to death by starvation. It is for this reason that the 1932-1933 famine can be considered a manmade famine, and this famine is one of the gravest crimes of Stalin” (p. 376, Russ.).

In our opinion, only after reading a large number of documents that prove the genocide of Uk­rai­nians could Kondrashin write, perhaps subconsciously, the following: “The famine helped Stalin liquidate what he considered a potential opposition to his regime in Ukraine, which could become political, rather than cultural, and rely on the peasantry. There are some facts that prove this, including those in the third volume of the documentary collection Tragedy of the Soviet Countryside devoted to the holodomor, which describes the activities of GPU organs in the Ukrainian countryside” (p. 242, Russ.).

Pressing the argument of the absence of concrete documents on pre-planned extermination of Ukrainians, Kondrashin refers us to the International Commission of Jurists which allegedly concluded that “it is not in a position to confirm the existence of a premeditated plan to organize famine in Ukraine in order to ensure the success of Moscow’s policies” (p. 18, Russ.).

Unfortunately, Kondrashin did not quote the next lines of this documents, which say: “Ho­we­ver, most of the commission members believe that even if the Soviet authorities did not actually plan the famine, they apparently took advantage of this famine to force [the populace] to accept the policy they resisted.”

Besides, the International Com­mis­sion of Jurists with the Swedish professor Jacob Sundberg at the head (and without a single Ukrainian, incidentally) also made this conclusion: “Although there is no direct evidence that the 1932-1933 famine was systemically masterminded to break the Ukrainian nation once and for all, most of the commission members believe that Soviet officials deliberately used this famine to pursue their policy of denationalizing Ukraine.”

It should be stressed that Prof. Kondrashin hushes up the fact that the Soviet government furnished no archival documents to this commission and refused altogether to cooperate with it, organizing protest letters against its activities on the part of communist historians. Nor does the monograph’s author cites the commission’s findings that show, on the basis of open censuses in 1926 and 1939, certain demographic changes in the USSR population.

The truth is that while the population increased by 16 percent in the USSR, by 28 percent in the Russian Federation, by 11.2 percent in Belarus over the aforesaid period, it dropped by 9.9 percent in the Ukrainian SSR. This provided ample grounds for well-known jurists in various countries to recognize the 1932-1933 Holodomor as a deliberate strike on Ukrainians.

We cannot bypass one more cardinal question that Kondrashin touched upon in his book. Admitting that “the mindless collectivization and excessive state procurement targets ruined Ka­zakh animal and land husbanders, caused a mass-scale migration to China and the famine-related death of hundreds of thousands of Kazakhstan residents,” this author claims: “at the same time, Kazakh academics did not follow in the footsteps of their Ukrainian colleagues and are treating the 1932-1933 tragedy in line with the approaches of Russian re­sear­chers” (p. 27, Russ.).

At the same time, Kondrashin himself points out that Kazakhs were allowed to settle and set up collective farms, say, in the Volga region during the Holodomor. For example, there were 81 economic entities with 391 people in Sorochinsky district, Middle Volga region (p. 188, Russ.).

In other words, Kazakhs were not forbidden to look for food outside their republic. This is proved, incidentally, by dozens of archival materials found in Kazakhstan. It is only with respect to the famine-stricken Ukrainian population that the regime would issue draconian, to quote Kondrashin, directives that deprived it of a possibility to flee from death to the neighboring regions.

Prof. Kondrashin tries to persuade us several times that no concrete documents have been found. But this is not a sound argument because Moscow also tried to persuade us 20 years ago that there were no secret supplements to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact on dividing the spheres of influence in Europe, signed in the Kremlin on August 23, 1939. Then these documents were found.
It is quite obvious that Nikita Khrushchev’s announcement at the CPSU 20th Congress that Stalin intended to deport all Ukrainians to Siberia will also find documentary proof some day. After all, why do Kondrashin and other Russian historians not ascribe to this kind of documents Stalin’s telegram to CK KP(b)U Mendel Khatayevich, dated November 8, 1932, saying that “the Politburo is now considering the question of how to bring the Ukrainian peasant down to his knees?”

Russian authors keep saying that the Holodomor tragedy should unite, not disunite, peoples. But this will only occur when they abandon the hard ideological line and admit historical realities.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Prague, Czech Republic, Dec 09, 2008
In many ways, Kyiv is a city of contrasts.  On one boulevard you will encounter a rather squat, red granite statue of Lenin, his right hand aloft pointing to the proverbial better tomorrow that, thankfully, after 70 years finally became yesterday. The authorities refuse to dismantle the statue, claiming it has "historic" value. That's the communist touch.

Walk a few blocks down to a short, gray, treeless street called Passage and you will be assaulted by ostentatious conspicuous consumption: Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta, Bally, Ferragamo. That's the nouveau riche, oligarchic touch.

Up the hill from these two telling spots stands a small -- and until, last week, the only -- monument to the victims of the 1932-33 famine in Ukraine. It was erected in 1993.

Together these three points in Ukraine's capital create a kind of historic Bermuda Triangle into which things disappear and people forget. Lenin gave birth to the people who created the famine; luxury goods should make everyone forget the deprivations of the Soviet past and the pain of famine. But today almost 50 million Ukrainians somehow remain held hostage by one, two, or all three of these points of reference.

Ukraine's current president, Viktor Yushchenko, has made remembering the famine a cornerstone of his presidency. In 2006, the parliament passed a law recognizing the famine as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people. Yushchenko went to great lengths to ensure that this year's 75th anniversary of the famine be commemorated on a national level. Foreign leaders participated in the commemorations; conferences were held; memorials unveiled, candles lit, and the names of the dead remembered.

In a particularly moving sign of solemnity, the president and the prime minister even suspended their endless bickering for a day to participate in the unveiling of the new memorial complex in the capital.

And yet large swathes of Ukraine remain deeply ambivalent about the famine. Eastern and southeastern Ukraine -- where the famine took its greatest toll -- even today, when the facts about the famine are widely publicized and accessible, has the fewest memorials. The first attempts to commemorate the victims took place very far away from Ukraine in fact; Canadian-Ukrainians erected the first famine memorial in 1989 in Edmonton.

The late historian James Mace, who joined the famine project at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute and collected material for Robert Conquest's seminal work "The Harvest of Sorrow," called Ukraine a post-genocidal society.
Becoming a famine expert in his own right, Mace made Ukraine his adopted homeland. He believed that what Ukrainians call Holodomor (murder by hunger), maimed Ukraine to such an extent that it created a discontinuity in the normal development of the Ukrainian people.

In the former Warsaw Pact countries, the collapse of communism brought about a restoration of a previous independence. But in Ukraine, the Ukrainian nation -- as a community possessing a clear sense of its identity, history, and cultural values -- remained a national minority in its own country even after independence.
The damage from the Soviet legacy was such that Ukrainians lacked a broad consensus concerning their future. All that remained were the surviving structures of Soviet Ukraine. The country was no longer a Ukrainian Soviet republic, but it was also not a Ukrainian Ukraine, in the sense in which Poland is Polish or the Czech Republic is Czech.

The orchestrated famine wiped out millions of nationally conscious Ukrainians. Whether or not one accepts that the famine was genocide, there is little doubt that it was targeted against Ukrainian nationalism, against Ukrainian-ness. Mykola Khvylovy, one of the most popular and talented writers of the period and a committed communist, shot himself in helpless protest.
The creative engine of a people was destroyed, slowing down and distorting nation building for decades. The Soviet regime prevented families and individuals from processing both personal and national grief. For more than 50 years, Ukraine could not address this trauma openly.

Ukrainian society, however, was soon to experience new shocks: the purges of 1937-38, war, Nazi occupation and the Holocaust, Soviet reconquest, and the 1946-47 famine. The scars of the Holodomor are overlaid by those of these other tragedies. Yet, under the consequences of these repeated blows, traces of the 1932-33 famine are unmistakable.
Without taking it into account, for instance, it is impossible to account for the much weaker -- compared to what happened in 1914-22 -- Ukrainian national movement that arose in the great upheaval of World War II. Western Ukraine, which in 1933 was not part of the USSR, is not surprisingly the exception.

What does it mean to be Ukrainian today? What is Ukraine? What is the Ukrainian idea? Former President Leonid Kuchma at one time created quite an angry backlash by stating that the Ukrainian idea had not worked in Ukraine.
If a country called Ukraine endlessly convenes conferences on self-identity, if pundits pontificate ad nauseum on "project Ukraine," if Ukrainians themselves can't define their identity or their values, then one can safely admit that the country has something of an identity crisis.

Is it important to have the world acknowledge the Ukrainian famine as an act of genocide? For the Ukrainian state, yes. But will such recognition help the country itself? Will it ease the effects of the famine trauma? Will it steer Ukrainian society onto a path of self-awareness?
Will it compel the eastern Ukrainian citizen, who is descended from the ethnic Russians who were resettled into the towns and villages emptied by the famine, feel a connection to this country?
Will it give the inhabitants of the more than 13,000 towns and villages that died in 1932-33 a voice and a name? And, most importantly, will today's diverse Ukrainians, who aren't particularly eager to listen to the stories of their painful past, hear those voices?

It seems to me that James Mace was on to something. The famine is not an only an event in Ukraine's past -- it is an event in its present and its future.

NOTE: Irena Chalupa is the director of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service. The views expressed in this commentary are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL
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Ukraine's famine survivors still bear the emotional scars.

By Iryna Shtogrin, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)
Prague, Czech Republic, Monday, December 08, 2008
Distrust of government and future uncertainty are just two of the most conspicuous features of the post-genocidal syndrome that psychologists have identified in modern Ukrainians some 75 years after the famine of 1932-33.

On a more intimate level, famine survivors still value every breadcrumb, and their descendants greet guests with tables overloaded with a variety of dishes. In one form or another, Ukrainians will universally impress on each other the importance of "having something to eat."

Doctors describe a number of symptoms of post-genocidal syndrome that are unconnected to the trauma directly, but which can still seriously undermine the sufferer's health. Victims feel pain in places that are not supposed to hurt and experience nightmares and hidden anxieties that steal their ability to laugh and enjoy life.

Taras Vozniak, the editor of "Ji" magazine, has described the experience as "such a trauma that for people who survived it is very difficult to remember what happened." He compares it to the effects of rape: "[Victims] don't want to testify, or to remember. They want to erase the tragedy from their memory."

Having survived a famine that was brought about by the policies of the Soviet government, Ukrainians now question the very notion of government. They have -- if not fear -- then a feeling of permanent uncertainty about the future. Under each shift in political direction or change of political leaders, Ukrainians rush to buy the necessary essentials. Just in case.

The memory of their ancestors -- who were robbed of food by their own people on orders from the Kremlin -- forces many Ukrainians always to keep something for a "black day" and never truly reveal themselves fully, even to close acquaintances.

That same instinct compels Ukrainians to stockpile food, and to invite anyone who stops by their home to sit down for a meal. Ukrainians tend to rely on themselves, living by their wits and soothing themselves with the eternal saying, "God willing."

Academician Myroslav Popovych survived the famine and believes that other survivors can never really forget. He says, "conditions then were such that all people who belong to that generation carry this taint." But he also asserts that "personality always wins out in the end -- I wouldn't say that I have become more obedient or completely focused on earthly problems."

But the most important thing that Ukrainians carry from these terrible times is a complete revulsion toward totalitarian regimes.

"Ukrainians still lack a political culture because of their history, but we have a huge drive toward liberty," Popovych says. "I don't know whether you can call this famine memory, but it is certainly a total aversion to totalitarian mentality."

Ukrainian society is highly individualistic, partly because its history has incorporated the terrible experience of death and survival of famine. Old notions such as "my home is my castle" and "I'm my own boss" have hampered the formation of civil society and a genuine national elite in Ukraine.

At the same time, this attitude turns the average Ukrainian into a libertarian. They view even the slightest attempt by politicians to elevate themselves with sarcasm, and they sense the slightest false note in officials' speeches about their "love of the people" and their promises to solve the problems of average citizens.

One must remember that, aside from the natural psychological reaction to survived horrors, Ukrainians for decades were not allowed to speak about the famine -- it could have cost them not only their liberty but also their lives.

Former dissident and political prisoner Yevhen Sverstiuk recalls seeing fear in countrymen's eyes when he asked them about the 1932-33 famine even after perestroika. People asked whether they would be executed. Many said they still feared being punished for speaking out. That despite the fact that they'd been invited by the village council to speak on the subject, and the entire project soliciting their views had been authorized by the regional government.

Philosopher Yevhen Sverstiuk believes that the time has come when Ukrainians can cry over their painful experiences. They can process the past by talking about the famine, identifying all the villages where people died, naming all of the victims, and taking steps toward closure.

After crying out their trauma, people should wipe their tears and get to work, says Sverstiuk. Otherwise, they risk the danger of becoming spiritual beggars. The world values the brave. By telling the truth, and overcoming their fear, Ukrainians overcome their inferiority complexes.

Writer Ivan Dziuba calls the famine a blow to Ukraine's future. And the only way to fight back is to free oneself of this heavy burden of genetic memory by revealing the entire truth.

The late American researcher James Mace began the process by defining Ukraine as a post-genocidal society. Mace believed Ukraine would be incapable of further development until the entire truth of the famine was told.

That idea has been confirmed by the experiences of other nations that suffered similar traumas, defeats, and the burden of penance. Society returns to successful development through awareness, and acceptance of its national memory and history.

The best that the current government in Kyiv can do to commemorate those killed by famine is to create the conditions so that all Ukrainians could feel certain and security. Little is required in order to achieve this -- just respect for human rights, abiding by the rule of law, and hard work.

NOTE: Iryna Shtogrin is a correspondent with RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service. The views expressed in this commentary are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL.
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