Ukraine: Holodomor, Red Terror, Gulag, Crimes of Communism, Holocaust, Tatars
DATE:   Wednesday, May 27, 2009
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Kremlin Wants to 'Correct' The Record, Reset History
Mr. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor, SigmaBleyzer Emerging
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By James Marson, Kiev, Ukraine, Time magazine, NY, NY, Fri, May. 22, 2009
A proposed law could make comparing Soviet rule with that of the
Nazis a crime. Intellectuals fear a manipulation of Russia’s past.
By Fred Weir, Correspondent, The Christian Science Monitor
Boston, Massachusetts, Thursday, May 21, 2009

Efforts underway to hurt Russia by falsifying history says President Medvedev
By Steve Gutteman, Associated Press (AP), Moscow, Russia, Tue, May 19, 2009

"I say in all seriousness - our president has issued a terrifying order."
Analysis & Commentary: By Anton Orekh, Journalist, Ekho Moskvy
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Prague, Czech Republic, Thu, May 21, 2009

Putin says Denikin said thinking about splitting Russia and Little Russia (that is Ukraine) was a crime.
Interfax news agency, Moscow, Russia, in Russian, 24 May 09
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Sunday, May 24, 2009

[A good report with a bad title about Kremlin falsifiers, says Roman Serbyn]
By Peter Fedynsky, Voice of America (VOA), Moscow, Russia, Tue, 19 May 2009
Ukrinform, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 19, 2009 

Why is Russia romanticising the memory of Stalinism, enquires Memorial's
founder Arseny Roginsky, when its defining feature was the use of terror?
By Arseny Roginsky, Founder of Memorial, Russia
Open Democracy network, Moscow, Russia, Dec 16, 2008

Window on Eurasia: By Paul Goble, Vienna, May 20, 2009

UNIAN news agency, Kiev, Ukraine, in Ukrainian, 16 May 09
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Saturday, May 16, 2009 


Window on Eurasia: by Paul Goble, Vienna, Thursday, May 21, 2009



Seventy-five years after the most brutal ethnic genocide in history,

Russia’s goal to eradicate all things Ukrainian remains

Article by Peter Borisow, New York, New York
Canadian American Slavic Studies, Vol. 42, No. 3, (Fall 2008). Pg. 251-265
Charles Schlacks, Publisher, Idyllwild, CA


United Press International (UPI), Kiev, Ukraine, Mon, May 18 2009


Window on Eurasia, By Paul Goble, Vienna, Friday, May 22, 2009



Ukraine's Day of Remembrance for Victims of Political Repression
James Marson, Staff Writer, Kyiv Post, Kyiv, Ukraine, Fri, May 23, 2009  

Eighteen burial grounds of the victims of the 1937-40 mass-scale

political repressions have been found in Ukraine
By Ivan Kapsmun, The Day Weekly Digest in English #14

Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, 19 May 2009 

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Kyiv, Ukraine, Fri, May 15, 2009

Ukraine 3000 International Charitable Foundation, Kyiv, Ukraine, Sun, May 17, 2009

Ukrinform, Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, May 18, 2009

By Peter Fedynsky, Voice of America (VOA), Moscow, Russia, Mon, 18 May 2009
5 Kanal TV, Kiev, Ukraine, in Ukrainian, Monday, 18 May 09
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Monday, May 18, 2009 
Many Tatars have returned to the Crimean Peninsula, but they
continue fight for the return of their land and rights.
By James Marson, Contributor, The Christian Science Monitor
Boston, Massachusetts, Tuesday, May 19, 2009
UNIAN news agency, Kiev, Ukraine, in Ukrainian, 23 May 09
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Saturday, May 23, 2009 
Black Sea TV, Simferopol, Ukraine, in Russian, 19 May 09
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Tuesday, May 19, 2009  
Window on Eurasia: By Paul Goble, Vienna, Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Interfax news agency, Moscow, Russia, in Russian, 15 May 09
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Friday, May 15, 2009 
Interfax Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, May 18, 2009
By Diana Dutsyk, UCIPR political observer
Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR)
Research Update. Vol. 15, No. 15/575, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wed, 13 May 2009 
Taras Bulba, 15th-century Cossack immortalized in Nikolai Gogol novel
By Ellen Barry, The New York Times, New York, NY, Sunday, April 12, 2009
By James Marson, Kiev, Ukraine, Time magazine, NY, NY, Fri, May. 22, 2009

Fresh from their conflict over gas in January, Ukraine and Russia are again in the midst of a heated battle — this time, about the countries' shared Soviet past.
As Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko this week lamented that Ukraine had become "a hostage in the fight between two totalitarian regimes — fascist and communist" and called for Soviet-era symbols around the country to be torn down, his Russian counterpart Dmitri Medvedev ordered the creation of a presidential commission "to counter attempts to harm Russian interests by falsifying history."

These latest salvos represent an intensification of the ongoing war of words between the two countries over their closely linked histories. Political analysts say the disagreement, like the gas conflict, is driven by Russia's desire to stymie Ukraine's attempts to forge an independent future.
"It's an instrument that Russia uses to maintain influence in its so-called near abroad," says Valeriy Chaly, director of international programs at the Razumkov Center think tank in Kiev, referring to the former Soviet bloc countries. "History can be used to create a political nation. It's an important process that brings Ukraine closer to Europe. But Russia wants to stop, or at least control, this process." 

Yushchenko has been a thorn in the Kremlin's side ever since he came to power in 2005, after popular protests known as the Orange Revolution forced the rerun of a rigged election won by the Russia-backed candidate.
Deeply unpopular in Russian political circles for his pro-West policies, Yushchenko has also attracted scorn for his honoring of Ukrainian national war heroes who fought against Russia and for drawing international attention to Holodomor, the man-made famine planned in Moscow that killed several million Ukrainians in 1932 and '33.

Yushchenko has touched a raw nerve among Russian leaders with what they see as attempts to tear apart the two nations, efforts to cement Ukraine's independence — gained in 1991 — and move the country toward the West. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement last week accusing Kiev of trying to drag Ukrainians into "an artificial, contrived confrontation with Russia."

But Yushchenko's moves to bring attention to the crimes of the past have been well received by many in Ukraine, whose citizens suffered widespread political repression under the Soviet regime. "People need to know the history of their own country, not the distorted Soviet view," says Roman Krutsyk, president of the Kiev-based NGO Memorial, which documents Soviet political repressions. "Yushchenko's biggest achievement is that he brought up the question of our history."
On May 17, Ukraine's Day of Remembrance for Victims of Political Repression, Yushchenko gave a speech at the Bykivnya forest, a mass grave near Kiev where the bodies of an estimated 100,000 victims of the NKVD, the forerunner of the KGB, were dumped between 1937 and 1941. In the speech, he equated the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany: "They are comparable in their hatred towards human beings. They are identical in the unprecedented scale of their mass killings."
He also called for Ukraine to "finally purge itself of the symbols of a regime that destroyed millions of innocent people," saying that 400 such monuments were taken down last year. A recent decision to remove a statue paying tribute to the Red Army in Lviv in western Ukraine brought harsh criticism from the Russian government, reminiscent of the outcry when Estonian authorities had a similar statue dismantled and relocated in Tallinn in 2007. "We have a shared history, but our views of it are very different," says Stanislav Kulchytsky, deputy director of the Institute of Ukrainian History in Kiev.
Moscow is particularly irked by Yushchenko's recognition of leaders of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, or UPA, which fought against Soviet — as well as Nazi and Polish — forces in World War II. Members of the group are frequently denounced as "fascists" and "Nazi collaborators" in the Russian media, but Kulchytsky says the reality is more complex and that they "never had an agreement with Hitler."

Now the Russian authorities are hitting back. On Tuesday, Medvedev announced the creation of a presidential commission to work to protect Russia's history from being revised or re-evaluated in any way that tarnishes Russia's image.
"More and more frequently, we are coming across historical falsifications," he said in a video blog on May 7, two days before Victory Day, which celebrates the WW II defeat of Nazi Germany by Soviet forces. "Such attempts are becoming more vicious, evil and aggressive. We will not allow anyone to cast doubt on the heroic feat of our people." (See pictures of Victory Day in Russia.)

The pro-Kremlin United Russia party, led by Prime Minister and former President Vladimir Putin, has also submitted a bill to parliament that would make it a criminal offense to belittle the Soviet victory. Critics say these moves are aimed at stopping people from talking about the more unpleasant parts of the country's past and that they are a response to the revision of Soviet history in Russia's "near abroad," where many see the Soviet advance during the war not as a liberation but as the start of an occupation.

In Kiev, campaigners remain defiant that the truth about Soviet-era crimes must come out. "Do they want us to forget?" asks NGO Memorial's Krutsyk. "Anyone who does is an enemy of the Ukrainian people."
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
A proposed law could make comparing Soviet rule with that of the
Nazis a crime. Intellectuals fear a manipulation of Russia’s past.
By Fred Weir, Correspondent, The Christian Science Monitor 
Boston, Massachusetts, Thursday, May 21, 2009
MOSCOW - A bitter joke from the Soviet-era has it that Russia is the world's only country with an unpredictable past.

That jibe has come winging back in recent days, after the Kremlin announced the creation of a special 28-member panel tasked with examining and combating examples of "historical revisionism" that harm Russia's image.
The committee, which has no legal power, is chaired by the head of President Dmitry Medvedev's administration, Sergei Naryshkin, and includes a sprinkling of historians but also lawmakers, Kremlin officials, the armed forces' chief of staff, and members of the FSB security service.
But a companion law, drafted by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party and soon due to be introduced into the State Duma, will stipulate fines and prison sentences of up to five years for anyone found guilty of "denying the decisions of the Nuremberg Tribunal."
This is a reaction to a growing body of historiography in former Soviet and Eastern European countries that depicts the long years of Soviet domination as similar in nature to the Nazi occupation, and suggests that for these nations, liberation arrived only when the USSR collapsed.
Even more irritating for the Russians are perceived attempts in some places, like Ukraine and Latvia, to "rehabilitate" citizens who wore German uniforms during World War II to fight against the oncoming Red Army.

"It is high time to make a study of what is going on here, and to decide what kind of documents we need to dig up and publish to counter these new interpretations," says Natalya Narochnitskaya, a historian, former Duma deputy, and member of the new commission. "If a nation is unable to come to a united view in interpreting its own past, it will be unable to formulate its national interests."
Ms. Narochnitskaya insists that the panel's brief is to study the problem and make recommendations, not to impose a Sovietesque party line. "All nations have this problem of balance and need to find their own path between humiliation and normal self-criticism," she says.
Critics are alarmed by what they see as a blatant throwback to Soviet methods of intellectual control.
"You cannot struggle against falsifications of history by creating bureaucratic commissions," says Sergei Solovyov, editor of Scepsis, a Russian quarterly journal that aims to promote cross-cultural debate. "Either it will be completely useless or it will become a tool for suppressing people with different points of view."
The Kremlin has been infuriated by what it sees as attempts to "revise" the results of World War II in some Eastern European and former Soviet countries.
The removal of Red Army war memorials in Poland and the Baltic states has drawn particular ire, as have street marches by Latvian SS veterans, a Lithuanian law banning the public display of Soviet symbols, and an Estonian prosecution of a decorated Soviet war veteran, Arnold Meri, on charges of genocide for his alleged role in postwar deportations of Estonians to Siberia. (Mr. Meri died two months ago, before the trial finished.)
Another sore point has been Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's public praise for the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which fought a CIA-backed guerrilla war against the USSR for nearly a decade following the end of World War II, as well as official Ukrainian efforts to get world governments to classify as an act of "genocide" the mass famine caused by farm collectivization in the early 1930s, which killed millions of Soviet peasants and is known in Ukraine as the "Holodomor."

In his recently launched blog, Mr. Medvedev recently complained that "such attempts [to revise history] are becoming more hostile, more evil, and more aggressive.... We find ourselves in a situation in which we have to defend the historical truth and once again prove facts that not long ago seemed most clear.
But it is necessary to do."
A public opinion survey conducted last month by the state-run VTsIOM agency found that almost two-thirds of Russians agree that attempts to "deny the Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War" should be outlawed, referring to the Russian term for World War II. Many older Russian historians appear to agree that the panel, and its brief of fighting revisionism, is a good thing.

"We had to do this long ago," says General Makhmut Gareyev, a war hero and president of the official Academy of Military Sciences in Moscow. "One cannot tolerate historical falsifications, particularly of World War II. Once the state organs make their decision, some things will possibly be corrected in the near future."
Roy Medvedev, a dissident historian from the Soviet period, told the independent Ekho Moskvi radio station that the commission is not an objectionable idea in principle – if it sticks to reviewing history and opening up archive access. But he added, "I have strongly protested against any measures for criminal prosecution for falsification because this would be a restoration of Soviet practices.... It will be very bad if publishing various kinds of theories and research ends up being banned."
Russia's own national identity has been in flux since the collapse of the USSR, along with its ideology and multi-ethnic empire. The early post-Soviet years were marked by excoriating self-criticism and widespread public demoralization. Vladimir Putin came to power nearly a decade ago amid a patriotic backlash, which aimed to banish that pervasive sense of national humiliation by restoring pride in Russia and recognizing the positive achievements of the Soviet years.

Some ultranationalist thinkers, such as Alexander Dugin, who heads the influential International Eurasian Movement, suggest that the creation of a national myth that will unite Russians is a worthy goal.
"We should fix some limits to freedom of speech in order to establish a national consensus and preserve it for future generations," Mr. Dugin says. "To have a myth that provides a stable point of reference for society is necessary to define our historical path. That's not false."
But critics have long complained that the downside of the Putin-era "feel good" approach to Russian history includes a tendency to minimize a multitude of past crimes, including mass murders carried out by Joseph Stalin's NKVD security service.
"I don't even think [the commission] is legal. Our Constitution forbids the establishment of a state ideology and mandates ideological pluralism in Russia," says Vladimir Ryzhkov, a former independent Duma deputy. "You can debate history, but it shouldn't be imposed by those who happen to be in power. For centuries, our history has been written and rewritten by czars and commissars. So, this new commission can only raise doubt and protest."
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Efforts underway to hurt Russia by falsifying history says President Medvedev

By Steve Gutteman, Associated Press (AP), Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 19, 2009

MOSCOW - Russia announced Tuesday it has created a commission to fight what President Dmitry Medvedev says are efforts to hurt his country by falsifying history — part of a campaign to promote the Kremlin's views and silence those who question them.

Bitter disputes over events of the past century — including a World War II-era massacre of Polish officers, a Stalin-era famine in Ukraine and the relocation of the graves of Soviet soldiers in the Baltics — have damaged Russia's relations with former Soviet and Eastern bloc neighbors.

Russian leaders tend to cast the Soviet Union as a force for good that defeated Nazi Germany and liberated Eastern Europe. Critics say such arguments gloss over the decades of postwar Soviet dominance seen by many in the region as a hostile occupation, and some say Russia must do more to acknowledge Soviet-era crimes.

Medvedev earlier this month warned against questioning the primacy of the Soviet Union's role in the World War II, in which at least 27 million Soviet citizens were killed. The costly victory over fascism is a source of immense pride for Russians, and is central to Moscow's vision of 20th Century European history.

"We will never forget that our country, the Soviet Union, made the decisive contribution to the outcome of the second world war, that it was precisely our people who destroyed Nazism, determined the fate of the whole world," Medvedev said May 8, on the eve of celebrations commemorating the Allied victory in Europe.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's party is drafting legislation to make it a crime to belittle the Soviet contribution to what Russians call the Great Patriotic War. The bill, yet to be submitted to parliament, equates criticizing the Soviets' role with rehabilitating Nazism, and makes it punishable by up to three years in prison.

The new 28-member commission, created by a presidential decree, will investigate "the falsification of historical facts and events aimed to disparage the international prestige of the Russian Federation," according to an addendum to the decree signed Friday and announced Tuesday.
The decree said it would also recommend measures to counter alleged falsifications, but Medvedev's press service declined to comment what those measures might entail.
The commission will be headed by Medvedev's chief of staff, Sergei Naryshkin, and include foreign and domestic intelligence officials as well lawmakers, historians and officials from government ministries.
Some analysts said Russia was trying to prevent any effort to equate the actions of the Soviet regime with the crimes of the Nazis. "Something had to be done about it, because the arbitrariness and falsifications have become intolerable, contradicting not only science but common sense," said Makhmut Gareyev, president of Russia's Academy of Military Sciences and former deputy chief of the Soviet general staff.

Liberal Kremlin critics said, however, that Medvedev's commission amounted to an effort to airbrush Soviet history. Author Yulia Latynina said it plays into the hands of "mastodons in epaulets" — ultraconservatives among Russia's historians and politicians.

"The whole idea was copied from Orwell's '1984' and from the famous phrase about Russia as a country with unpredictable past," she told The Associated Press. "This commission will finally turn Medvedev into a laughing stock."

For years, Russia has fought efforts by former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact allies, many now in NATO and the European Union, to remove or relocate WWII monuments and Soviet grave sites.
Russia's leaders have accused the Soviet republics of Ukraine, Latvia and Estonia of honoring those who fought alongside the Nazis by allowing them to hold commemorations.
Moscow has mounted a campaign against Ukrainian claims that a 1930s famine that killed millions was an act of genocide engineered by the Soviets.
It also denies that the 1940 killing by Soviet agents of some 20,000 Polish officials, intellectuals and priests near the western Russian town of Katyn constituted genocide.
Historian Heorhiy Kasyanov from Ukraine's National Academy of Sciences accused the Kremlin of trying to whitewash Soviet history in order to justify the rollback of democratic rights in Russia.
"It's part of the Russian Federation's policy to create an ideological foundation for what is happening in Russia right now," he said in Kiev.

NOTE: Associated Press writers Mansur Mirovalev in Moscow and Maria Danilova in Kiev, Ukraine, contributed to this report.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
"I say in all seriousness - our president has issued a terrifying order."

Analysis & Commentary: By Anton Orekh, Journalist, Ekho Moskvy
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Prague, Czech Republic, Thu, May 21, 2009

An amazing new car was recently unveiled at an auto show in Shanghai. It is called the Gelly, but just one glance makes it obvious that it is a copy of a Rolls Royce. This much is obvious to anyone with eyes and an even rudimentary knowledge of cars. And the Chinese didn’t even bother trying to deny it. They are marketing this piece of plagiarism under the slogan “Reinventing a classic.”

I noticed the word “reinventing,” and thought of it again when I learned about President Dmitry Medvedev’s order on the creation of a “presidential commission against efforts to falsify history to harm the interests of Russia.”

Russia, the saying goes, is a country with an unpredictable past. In fact, it is harder to predict our past than it is to foresee the future. It is a fun-house mirror that it would seem impossible to twist further. Could it be that the new commission will be in charge of straightening out twisted reflections?

Like any similar enterprise, this one also has a false bottom. What history are we talking about? Are we discussing the entire millennia? Will we be protecting Vladimir Monomakh or Ivan the Terrible from falsification? How about Rasputin or the chemist Yevgeny Biron?

Of course not. In fact, they won’t be defending Khrushchev or Brezhnev either. When we talk about the “falsification of history,” we have in mind just a narrow slice of history – the period of Stalin’s rule. The period that holds repressions and war, collectivization and the occupation of the Baltic states, the massacre at Katyn…

And about all these events and about this period in general there have already been more than enough lies. At some point, lies about this time simply replaced history itself.

History became what wasn’t – or, rather, how it wasn’t.

The struggle against these genuine falsifications began less than 25 years ago, and this work was never brought to a satisfactory conclusion. Of course, in history it is never possible to place the final period, but one can place the accents in the proper places so that people cannot be confused about fundamental concepts like good and evil and how one is to be distinguished from the other.

We live like a diseased tree. After all, a healthy tree cannot sprout from diseased roots. Our roots are our history, and they are rotten. They are rotten not because our history is bad. There is no such thing as bad history, just a poor understanding of history, a poor understanding of history as it actually was. This is the essence of the rot that is poisoning our tree and making it grow all twisted and crooked.

We need to find out how and why we lost millions of people during the war. We don’t even know how many millions we lost.

We need to talk about the “effective manager,” Stalin, who buried millions of his countrymen, occupied the Baltic peoples, and gunned down the Polish officers.

We need to remove the corpse from Red Square, because the heart of our motherland is not the place for the founder of a lawless regime.

Such truths do not blacken our history. In fact, they make it somehow greater because only by properly evaluating the colossal scale of the losses and mistakes of the war can we properly evaluate the greatness of our victory. Then we will understand that the war is not a bunch of popular films or the “reinvention of a classic” in the form of a colorized version of “Seventeen Moments of Spring.”

We will understand the price in blood and the price in inhumane labor that was paid to build the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station and other monuments of industrialization, to cultivate the virgin lands, and to launch our Gagarins into space.

But this is not why the Medvedev commission was created. All that remains of Gagarin in our history is his smile. All we know of the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station is a curtain of water falling gracefully through the spillways.
And all we know about the war is a bunch of white-toothed heroes speaking in 21st-century slang and burying Germans by the dozens. And Stalin is just pacing around his office, muttering some order to Marshall Zhukov in a Caucasian accent with a pipe clenched in his teeth.

I can’t imagine who will sit on this new commission. Who are these geniuses, these people with 100-percent knowledge, these people who carry inside them the final instance of truth? Rather, I can imagine them all too well: “historians” from the Federal Security Service, the Foreign Intelligence Service, the Defense Ministry.

Does this mean that our entire history is the history of the military and the secret services? Does it mean that Monomakh, Ivan the Terrible, the chemist Biron, and the madman Rasputin do not interest them? Maybe it would be more honest to rename it the Commission to Protect the Honor, Virtue, and Good Name of the Generalissimo.

I think the most important thing is the final bit of the official name of the Medvedev commission – the part about “harming the interests of Russia.” There is no such thing as history that harms interests. Only lies can harm interests. The lies that several generations of our people have been raised on -- people who, as a result, have lost any moral touchstones. And these are the lies that are now going to be defended and “reinvented.”

One final conclusion. If there is such a thing as “falsification that harms the interests of Russia,” then it stands to reason there must be “falsification that promotes the interests of Russia.” And that’s what our new commission will be doing.

I say in all seriousness – our president has issued a terrifying order.

NOTE: Anton Orekh is a journalist with Ekho Moskvy. The views expressed in this commentary, which originally appeared on the website “Yezhednevny zhurnal” are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL.
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Putin says Denikin said thinking about splitting Russia and Little Russia (that is Ukraine) was a crime.
Interfax news agency, Moscow, Russia, in Russian, 24 May 09
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Sunday, May 24, 2009
MOSCOW - Today Prime Minister Vladimir Putin laid flowers at the tombstones on the graves of Russian's whose remains had been brought to Russia not long ago.
These were writer Ivan Shmelev, philosopher Ivan Ilyin and General Anton Denikin. Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill conducted an office of consecration of these tombstones here, at the Donskoy Monastery.

After a chat with prior Tikhon, who accompanied the prime minister around the monastery's churchyard, Putin met the press. "Have you read Denikin's diaries?" [Putin asked]. "No, it seems we have not... but we will," the journalists said, embarrassed. "Do read, by all means!" the prime minister urged them.
"He shared his thoughts on Little Russia, that is Ukraine, and Russia as a whole in them." "He said that nobody should be allowed to meddle in relations between us. This has always been a matter for Russia itself!" Putin stressed.

Talking to journalists prior Tikhon said that in conversation with him Putin told him that reading Denikin's diaries had completely changed his attitude to the general and changed "his perception of Denikin in history".
"Putin recalled that he had read in Denikin's memoirs that, despite his total rejection of Soviet regime, even thinking about splitting Russia was a crime." "Preventing a partition of Russia, especially when it's a question of Little Russia, that is, Ukraine, was one of the main ideas of Denikin's works and political activity," the prior recalled Putin as saying.

"It's a crime if someone only begins to speak about splitting apart Russia and Ukraine, even if members of the White movement or foreigners speak about this," Putin said quoting Denikin's memoirs. "The general absolutely could not stand such ideas," the prime minister added in conversation with Tikhon.
He also remembers that it was the general who introduced the expression "the Balkanization of Russia", that is, the geopolitical tendencies which, as Denikin had forecast, emerged after the revolution and the Great Fatherland War.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
By Peter Fedynsky, Voice of America (VOA), Moscow, Russia, Tue, 19 May 2009

MOSCOW - The Kremlin has posted a decree that aims to prevent what are described as efforts to falsify history and harm the interests of Russia. The government move to set up a commission to deal with the issue, comes after the party of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called for measures to criminalize the defamation of any Soviet contribution to victory in World War II. 

The Kremlin Web site posted a decree Tuesday signed by President Dimitry Medvedev on May 15 that authorizes the establishment of a presidential commission to counter what are described as attempts to falsify history.

Writing on his Internet blog on May 7, Mr. Medvedev said Russia is being increasingly confronted with determined, malicious and aggressive historical falsifications. He said the number of interpretations of wartime history, some controversial, is also increasing.

The Kremlin leader acknowledges that every field of knowledge can have its own analysis, but he says perhaps the reason for reinterpretation of the war is because there are fewer and fewer people who fought in it and saw it with their own eyes. He says the vacuum being created, either through ignorance or to some extent deliberately, is being filled by a new vision and new interpretations of the war.

The president of Russia's Academy of Military Sciences, Makhmut Gareyev, told VOA there has been what he called an endless stream of suggestions in Russian media that the Soviet Union did not win the war, or that it would have been better had Hitler won. 

Gareyev mentioned in particular Russian journalist Alexei Pivovarov who recently aired a controversial nationwide TV documentary on the 1942 Battle of Rzhev on the Volga River. The Nazi-Soviet encounter is little-known in Russia, though it claimed the lives of an estimated 1.5 million people, two-thirds of them Soviets. 

Pivovarov's account of what historians call the Rzhev meat grinder strayed from typical Russian accounts of noble heroism and wise Kremlin leadership.

Veterans have since branded Pivovarov a traitor. Makhmut Gareyev also rejects the contention of many historians in Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics that they were occupied by Soviet forces.

Gareyev asks how was it possible for Soviet forces to destroy Hitler's armies and to liberate the Baltics or Poland without entering their territory. He notes that American troops remain in Germany and wonders why they are not considered occupiers, but Soviets in Eastern Europe were.

Most Western historians argue that British and American troops were not occupiers, but liberators who advanced from the west to destroy Nazi power and liberate German-captured territories. 

In Kyiv, the director of the History Institute at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Stanislav Kulchytsky, notes that Ukrainians and other nationalities fought in the Soviet Army with Russians and therefore share a common history. But Kulchytsky told VOA each country has a different interpretation of the events.

Kulchytsky says Russian media, particularly television, are currently showing many historical features with various interpretations of Ukrainian and Russian history. He says negative portrayals of Ukrainians create a wall of misunderstanding, indeed lack of understanding, which results in an image of Ukraine as a nation with a very negative attitude toward Russia, which he rejects as not true.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko stirred controversy in 2007 when he posthumously decorated Roman Shukhevych, the leader of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, or UPA, which struggled for an independent Ukraine during World War II. Moscow portrays the UPA as Nazi collaborators. The unit, which fought Soviet forces, initially welcomed the Germans as liberators, but soon waged war against them as well. UPA resisted Soviet rule into the 1950s.

Moscow and Kyiv are also at odds over the Holodomor, an event described in Ukraine as artificial famine perpetrated by the Kremlin, which claimed the lives of millions in the early 1930's. Ukrainians consider it an act of genocide. Russia says it was not genocide, because peasants of various ethnicities, not just Ukrainians, were also victimized.

Moscow was also outraged two years ago when Estonia relocated the statue of a Red Army soldier from a central location in Tallinn.

Meanwhile, Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu has introduced legislation in Parliament that would make it a crime to deny the Soviet victory in World War II. Foreigners deemed guilty would be banned from entering Russia. Historians have expressed concern the measure could also create a climate of fear that would further close access to already limited Russian archives. 

----- Original Message -----
From: "Roman Serbyn" <[email protected]>
To: <[email protected]>; <[email protected]>
Sent: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 5:14 PM
Subject: [politics] A good report with a bad title from VOA about Kremlin falsifiers

Kremlin Works to Prevent Falsification of History
By Peter Fedynsky, Moscow, 19 May 2009

It is clear from the report that Kremlin works to maintain the falsified version of Soviet past and to prevent historians from correct Soviet myths. Why did the title writer invent a lying title?

Roman Serbyn
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Ukrinform, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 19, 2009 

KYIV - Russian historian Leonid Mlechin called the Russian authorities not to turn the history into a means of score-settling and use it in the policy with Ukraine, UKRINFORM's own correspondent in Russia reports.

While commenting on air at the Echo of Moscow Radio Station on the situation with dissatisfaction of the Russian party with regard to Ukraine's intention to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Poltava Battle, Mlechin calls to take easy the fact that historical figures in different societies and different states are differently appreciated.
“We do not conflict with Sweden because of the Poltava Battle. If anybody marks the Poltava Battle, our MFA does not make any statements. And with Finland the MFA has no conflicts for a long time, they have a different view on “'the winter battle' of 1940”, the historian stated.
On this background, the situation with Ukraine looks, according to him, as cardinally opposite.
In addition to Mazepa, the same concerns the issue about the Holodomor. “The issue is really difficult - a genocide or not. The issue is for the historians.
And it turned out that it was started to be denied at all, as if nothing happened at all. And the people did not die, and everything was good. Well, be careful with it! It is a tragic and monstrous date. The people died, they died here and they died there. Don't pay off today's political scores on the historical and cultural space”, the expert called.

While answering a question about the reasons of a serious imbalance in relations of the peoples toward each other (and according to surveys, 62% of the Russians say that they negatively treat Ukraine, and in Ukraine 91% of the Ukrainians treat Russia kindly), Mlechin believes that such data are results of work of the state propaganda in Russia.
“Because Ukraine has its problems, but it has not the one problem. There - complete freedom of speech and a normal discussion in the society. Therefore, the people are not indoctrinated”, he noted.
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Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
Why is Russia romanticising the memory of Stalinism, enquires Memorial's
founder Arseny Roginsky, when its defining feature was the use of terror?

By Arseny Roginsky, Founder of Memorial, Russia
Open Democracy network, Moscow, Russia, Dec 16, 2008
The memory of Stalinism in contemporary Russia raises problems which are painful and sensitive. There is a vast amount of pro-Stalinist literature on
the bookstalls: fiction, journalism and pseudo-history. In sociological surveys, Stalin invariably features among the first three "most prominent figures of all times". In the new school history textbooks, Stalinist policy is interpreted in a spirit of justification.

There are also hundreds of crucial volumes of documents, scholarly articles and monographs on Stalinism. The achievements of these historians and
archivists is unquestionable. But if they do have any influence on the mass consciousness, it is too weak. The means of disseminating the information have not been there, and nor in recent years has the political will. However, the deepest problem lies in the current state of our national historical memory of Stalinism.

I should explain what I mean here by historical memory, and Stalinism. Historical memory is the retrospective aspect of collective consciousness. It informs our collective identity through our selection of the past we find significant. The past, real or imaginary, is the material with which it works: it sorts through the facts and systemizes them,  selecting those which it is prepared to present as belonging to the genealogy of its identity.

Stalinism is a system of state rule, the totality of specific political practices of the Stalinist leadership. Throughout the duration of this system, a number of characteristic features were preserved. But its generic feature (which arose from the very beginning of Bolshevist rule and did not disappear with Stalin's death) is terror as a universal instrument for solving any political and social tasks.

It was state violence and terror that made possible the centralization of rule, the severing of regional ties, high vertical mobility; the harsh introduction of an ideology which could be easily modified, a large army of subjects of slave labor, and many other things.

Thus, the memory of Stalinism is primarily the memory of state terror as the defining feature of the age. It is also what links it in so many respects with today.

Is that really what the memory of Stalinism means in today's Russia? I'd like to say a few words about the key features of this memory today. Firstly, the memory of Stalinism in Russia is almost always the memory of victims. Victims, not crimes. As the memory of crimes it does not register, as there is no consensus on this.

To a great extent this is because popular consciousness has nothing to hold onto from a legal point of view. The state has produced no legal document which recognizes state terror as a crime. The two lines in the preamble to the 1991 law on the rehabilitation of victims is clearly insufficient. There are no legal decisions that inspire any confidence - and there have not been any trials against participants of the Stalinist terror in the new Russia, not a single one.

There are other reasons too.

When popular consciousness has to come to terms with historical tragedies, it does so by assigning roles of Good and Evil. People identify themselves with one of the roles. It is easier to identify oneself with Good, i.e. with an innocent victim, or better still with a heroic battle against Evil.
Incidentally, this is why our Eastern European neighbors, from Ukraine to Poland and the Baltic States have no serious problems with coming to terms with the Soviet period of history, while in Russia, people identify themselves with victims or fighters, or with both at the same time. Whether or not this has anything to do with history is quite another matter - we're talking about memory, not knowledge.

It is even possible to identify oneself with Evil, as the Germans did (not without help from the outside), in order to distance oneself from this evil: "Yes, unfortunately we did that, but we're not like than anymore and we'll never be like that again".

In the Soviet terror, it is very difficult to distinguish the executioners from the victims. For example, secretaries of regional committee in August 1937 all wrote death sentences by the bundle, but by November 1938 half of them had already been shot themselves.

In national, and particularly regional memory, the "executioners" - for example, the regional committee secretaries of 1937 - are not unambiguously evil: yes, they signed execution warrants, but they also organized the construction of kindergartens and hospitals, and went to workers' cafeterias personally to test the food, while their subsequent fate is worthy of sympathy.

And one more thing: unlike the Nazis, who mainly killed "foreigners": Poles, Russians, and German Jews (who were not quite their "own" people), we mainly killed our own people, and our consciousness refuses to accept this fact.

In remembering the terror, we are incapable of assigning the main roles, incapable of putting the pronouns "we" and "they" in their places. This inability to assign evil is the main thing that prevents us from being able to embrace the memory of the terror properly. This makes it far more traumatic. It is one of the main reasons why we push it to the edge of our historical memory.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Window on Eurasia: By Paul Goble, Vienna, Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s commission to block “ the falsification of history at the expense of the interests of Russia’ will either be harmful to Medvedev’s reputation and Russia’s prospects for reform or prove useless as an operational body, even if it says a very great deal about the habit of mind of its authors.


“The struggle against the falsifications of history,” Memorial’s Arseny Roginsky argues, “is not an affair of the state,” and consequently, “the activity of the new commission will be useless or harmful” because “we all know very well how [the Russian] state struggles with falsifications” (


“Truth,” he continues, “is achieved not by the resolution of a state commission, even the highest created by decree of the president but is defined in free discussion among professionals or simply among people, among societies and peoples in various countries if this involves the definition of one and the same event.”


But clearly few in Russia expect this new body to produce that kind of truth. Indeed, the titles of some of articles about Medvedev’s action make that entirely clear: “A New Fascism” (, “A State Built on Lies” (, and “A Commission against History” (


And while the very outrageousness of the idea of this commission has attracted the most attention – one can only imagine how Moscow’s defenders would react if any other government were to do the same – less attention has been paid to three more mundane aspects of this example of bureaucratic authoritarianism, which in the end may prove more important.


[1] First, it is important to be clear about what this commission is mandated to do.  It is not supposed to be a continuously operating body; instead, it is called upon to meet only twice a year. And it is not asked to define truth but rather to point to falsifications of it and not even to all of those but only the ones that “harm” Russia’s image.


[2] Second, its 28 members, led by Presidential Administration head Sergey Naryshkin, include few scholars but a large number of political figures with backgrounds in intelligence or the force structures and with reputations of committed nationalists, often of the most extreme kind, an indication that they will not be the ones making the decisions about “falsifications.


[3] And third, the practical consequences of the commission, at least as currently established, seem likely to be small and perhaps even counterproductive.  On the one hand, the power of the Internet means that whatever the commission says, other points of view are likely to be available to those who are interested.’


On the other – and this is likely to be far more important – any comments by the commission about “falsifiers” is likely to attract more attention to their works than they might otherwise gain. That is what happened in Soviet times when the Communist party ideologists attacked “bourgeois falsifiers,” and this commission may do the same for a new generation.


But in addition to these observations, which reflect a narrow reading of what the commission is about, the new body, or more precisely the order calling it into existence, provides instructive guidance as to the general direction in which Russia unfortunately appears to be moving at the present time.


As Latynina writes in “Yezhednevny zhurnal” today, prior to yesterday’s announcement, “it would have been difficult to imagine” that “Our Liberal Hope, Mr. Medvedev, would sign a paper about the establishment of [what she calls] the establishment of [an Orwellian] Ministry of Truth”



Moreover, this announcement has a long prehistory, not only from Soviet times but from the presidency of Vladimir Putin, who, as Aleksandr Karyev points out today on, has long been obsessed with defining a particular approach to history that serves his needs if not those of the country (


And that view, Karyev continues, reflects “the pseudo-ideological vector” along which Russia has been moving in recent times, one “directed not toward the future but toward the past,” an effective acknowledgement of the intellectual and political bankruptcy of the current Russian regime.


Given the uncertainties over whether this commission will “really function” or simply prove to be one more ideological flash in the pan, it is probably premature to conclude that the decree creating it is “an act bearing an openly totalitarian character as human rights activist Lev Ponomaryev put it today (


But it is certainly fair to conclude as Yuliya Latynina does that Medvedev’s action represents “a new variety of fascism,” of a set of ideas which propagandizes “the exclusiveness of one’s own nation” and of its right to dominate others, however they may be defined from one moment to the next.


And she is certainly right that commissions like the one Medvedev has just created reflect a habit of mind and “an ideology of hatred to an open society, an ideology of struggle with ‘internal enemies,’” like that described by Orwell in “1984.”  And that is something that in today’s Russia is “becoming ever more horrifying,” even if this new body never meets.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
UNIAN news agency, Kiev, Ukraine, in Ukrainian, 16 May 09
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Saturday, May 16, 2009 
MOSCOW - Ukraine's ambassador to Russia Kostyantyn Hryshchenko has called on the Russian Foreign Ministry not to use the controversial historical past for waging information campaigns against Ukraine.  He said this in a comment to the UNIAN news agency.
"Lately everyone in Ukraine has been concerned that the attitude of Russians towards Ukrainians has taken a serious turn for the worse and that Russians are forming an impression of Ukraine as an enemy state," Hryshchenko said.

He pointed out that according to the information of the Russian company Levada-Centre, in January-February 2009 about 62 per cent of Russians admitted to having negative attitude towards Ukraine. At the same time, 91 per cent of Ukrainians said they were positive towards Russia.
"It is obvious that aggravated anti-Ukrainian moods in Russia in recent years were dictated by the information campaign that is consistently being waged by Russian media against our country, forming a negative image of Ukraine in the minds of a great number of Russians. Especially destructive are the biased interpretation of historical events and the distorted portrayal of Ukrainian society's attempts sincerely and openly to evaluate the past of its nation," Hryshchenko said.
"It is clear that the figure of Hetman Ivan Mazepa [18th century leader who allied with the Swedes against Peter the Great] is not viewed unambiguously in Russia due to hundreds of years of tsarist and then Soviet propaganda.
At the same time, Ukrainian society does not assess unambiguously such historical figures as Peter the Great and Catherine II, who destroyed Cossack freedoms, removed the autonomy of Ukrainian lands, and enserfed millions of Ukrainians," Hryshchenko said.
At the same time, Hryshchenko said that the principal difference lies in the fact that Ukrainians do not oppose Russia and its society honouring these figures and do not try to impose their point of view on anyone, which may be one of the reasons for the ever-growing disbalance in how our nations relate to each other.
"Both Ukrainian and Russian people should view history as a subject for careful and unbiased study rather than a tool for information campaigns. I am convinced that the countries and their foreign ministries have many things to discuss apart from events of the past centuries," Hryshchenko said.

Recently, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it was not pleased about the intention of the Ukrainian leadership to honour hetman Ivan Mazepa at the state level.  [Passage omitted: more background]
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U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC):
Promoting U.S.-Ukraine business relations & investment since 1995.


Window on Eurasia: by Paul Goble, Vienna, Thursday, May 21, 2009


Vienna - Yuri Shcherbak, Kyiv’s former ambassador in Washington, says that some Russian leaders are actively considering the possibility of seizing all or part of Ukraine and are preparing public opinion in Eurasia and the West for such a move by pushing the notion that Ukraine has become “a failed state.”


In a lengthy article in today’s Kyiv newspaper, “Den’,” Shcherbak says that “aggressive conversations relative to Ukraine and the possible dividing up of its territory are being conducted” now in Moscow by a variety of Russian nationalist politicians and analysts ( and   


Among the people he names are the followers of Konstantin Zatulin, the first deputy head of the Duma committee on compatriots and director of the Institute of CIS Countries, Aleksandr Prokhanov, the novelist and “Zavtra” commentator, and Aleksandr Dugin, the leader of the Eurasian Movement.


And while these individuals are notorious for their openly imperialistic views, Shcherbak says that he is convinced that “the idea of the division of Ukraine into parts is completely seriously being worked out at various levels of the powers that be in Russia.” And he reminds that it was not so long ago that Bolshevik “fantasies” informed Moscow’s “bloody reality.”


Moreover, he adds, many Russians took note, even if few in the West did, of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s comments at the Bucharest summit when he burst out: “Ukraine is not a state! What is Ukraine? One part of it is Eastern Europe, but another – and a very large part – was given by us!”


Such statements, the former Ukrainian diplomat warns, “are called in military language the ideological-propagandistic preparation of a future operation for the seizure of the territory of a sovereign state.”  And like most such efforts, they rely on a mix of facts and fictions in order to appear plausible to the greatest number of people.


The idea that Ukraine is a “failed” state, he continues, is simply not true.  According to one recent international ranking, neither Ukraine nor Russia falls in the category of a failed or failing state, but Ukraine’s obvious problems combined with Moscow’s vastly more powerful propaganda effort has allowed Russia to put Ukraine in that box.


Indeed, two articles by Russians have appeared in the last 24 hours that appear to provide evidence of the Ukrainian ambassador’s point.  In one, Andrey Stavitsky pointedly asks “has the sentence already been returned” on Ukraine in the current economic crisis? And will that entity thus “disappear as a state?” (


And Konstantin Zatulin yesterday wrote that Moscow must view the Russian diaspora in Ukraine and elsewhere as an ally, “in the same rank with the army, the fleet and the Church,” thus making a direct appeal for Russia to act before ethnic Russians in Ukraine disappear through assimilation (


Many in Ukraine, the West and even in Russia will be inclined to dismiss Shcherbak’s article as an overreaction to overheated Russian nationalist commentaries in Moscow. One very much hopes that such a dismissal is appropriate, but unfortunately, there are increasing indications that at least some in the Russian government are actually thinking about partition.


In the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Georgia and the West’s failure to take tough action to punish the Russian government for this breach of international law, more and more people in the Russian Federation are thinking about the possibility of redrawing borders in the post-Soviet space.


An example of that is provided by Mikhail Chernov, the secretary of the Movement for a Single Ossetia which wants that nation to unite under the aegis of the Russian Federation, in an interview he gave to the Israeli journalist Avraam Shmulyevich that was posted online in Russia on Tuesday (


In the course of the wide-ranging interview, Chernov suggested that incautious actions by Georgia’s Mikheil Saakashvili could again lead to war and to the Russian conquest and dismemberment of that Caucasus republic. Indeed, he suggested that such an event could lead to further redrawing of the borders in the region.


Asked whether Russia might be “playing with fire” if it pushes for further border changes, Chernov replied that “it is impossible to stop this process” and that if Russia wants “to survive,” Moscow must have “its own projects for the redrawing” of the map of the world before others can achieve their goal of “the destruction of the Russian state as a single whole.”

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Seventy-five years after the most brutal ethnic genocide in history,
Russia’s goal to eradicate all things Ukrainian remains
Article by Peter Borisow, New York, New York
Canadian American Slavic Studies, Vol. 42, No. 3, (Fall 2008). Pg. 251-265
Charles Schlacks, Publisher, Idyllwild, CA

As Ukrainians wind up the 75th Year to Commemorate the Holodomor, they can look back on the real progress that they have made in educating people around the world about the genocide in Ukraine in 1932-1933. Well over thirty-five countries as well as the European Union have recognized the inhuman sufferings during the Holodomor and many, [1] including the United States House of Representatives, have agreed it was deliberate genocide against the Ukrainian people.
A massive Holodomor Memorial Complex is being built in Kyiv. Ukrainians broke ground recently in Washington D.C. for a Holodomor Monument just a few minutes’ walk from the U.S. Capitol.

Despite all this progress, one glaring exception remains – an unrepentant Russia. Today, Russia has changed only its tactics, not its ultimate goal of solving its “Ukrainian problem.” Russia continues its work to eliminate all that defines Ukrainians as a people and as a nation in order to return Ukraine once and for all to regional status within Russia. 
In order to accomplish this, Russia must not only reassert its political control over Ukraine, but also fully subsume Ukrainian culture, society, business and industry into the Russian milieu. For Russia, this is a work in progress. However, Russia must also establish some degree of international acceptance of the elimination of Ukrainian national identity as well as of Ukraine as a nation. 

Nothing stands in Russia’s way more than the Holodomor. How can Russia pretend to be a respected world leader, a caring and responsible steward of its people with all that blood on its hands? This is a case of Lady Macbeth in reverse – the world sees the blood, while Russia actually believes that after seventy-five years of denial, rewriting history, repression and destruction of evidence, it has washed away the blood and is now magically pure as a newborn baby’s soul. 

But all of a sudden, here come those Ukrainian witnesses again. The survivors may be old, but they are unanimous about how and why it happened: “The Russians did it.” And, to make matters worse, the Ukrainian government has opened up the archives – with all those documents clearly stating that the purpose of the Holodomor was to destroy the Ukrainians.
The archives even contain documents proving that in the 1950s, in order to divert attention from Russia’s crimes in the Holodomor, Russia convinced the East German secret police, the Stasi, to forge documents alleging that Ukrainian nationalists had collaborated with the Nazis against Jews during World War II. [2] In fact, the opposite is true – Ukrainians and their military, political and religious leaders proactively opposed German persecution of Jews and worked to protect and rescue Jews from Nazis. [3]    

While Russia continues to use its considerable international influence as a major world power, victor in World War II, and now flush with petrodollars, to promote Holodomor dilution and denial, it cannot change the fact that Russia is responsible for the genocide in Ukraine.
Russia engineered, managed and implemented the Holodomor. Russia murdered 10 million Ukrainians in 500 days. The politically convenient argument that it was “communists” or “Soviets” who carried out the Holodomor is specious at best. Even those who sell this claim know it’s just spin. [4]

Russia did not just run the USSR; it was the USSR. When the USSR fell apart, Russia became its successor state. Russia took over all the assets – military, diplomatic and financial. Russia took it all, claiming it was all rightfully hers. Sometimes even the most accomplished liars tell the truth. The fact is that the USSR was just another incarnation of the old Russian Empire. The USSR effectively enforced Russian interests both at home and abroad.
When the USSR became unmarketable, Russia reinvented itself yet again, this time as the Russian Federation. But the Empire aches because it is incomplete – Ukraine is missing. Without Ukraine there is no Empire. Without the Empire, Russia reverts to its perennial status as semi-nomadic tundra, a sort of frozen Middle Eastern potentate with gas. 
It is impossible to understand the Holodomor without examining the historical and cultural roots of the Ukrainian and Russian nationalities as well as the historical relationships between the two nations.
Historically, Russia emerged as an empire of fairly rudimentary hunter-gatherers, which could survive at its levels of expectation only by conquering and draining the wealth and resources of its neighbors – ranging from the wheat and sea ports of Ukraine and the Caucasus to the oil and gas of Siberia.
To this day, Russia has a remarkably unsophisticated manufacturing industry and supplies much of its technical needs by buying them (including, unfortunately, entire manufacturers in Ukraine). 

Contrast this with Ukraine, a nation with some of the earliest known agricultural settlements (dating to the Trypillian and Scythian days) and a fundamental difference in national temperament emerges. Stable agricultural settlements lead to the need to be civilized. You cannot live with neighbors without learning how to get along – thus the emergence of rules of behavior, respect and other aspects of civilized society.
Hunter-gatherers, by definition, take by force – be it berries from trees or meat from beasts. When one area is depleted, they move on to another. If competitors emerge, fights ensue and the winner takes all. Beads, gold, and so on, are accrued to trade for that which they cannot hunt or gather. This is still very much the nature of Russia to this day. Russia remains a predator state.

Early Russia’s nomadic form of survival also led to an evolutionary acceptance of harsh leadership. Russians literally lived in constant fear of people or wild beasts for whom they were either enemy or suitable prey. Leaders of such nomadic communities were chosen first and foremost for their physical prowess in defending the village from beasts and nomadic attackers. By definition they were large and strong men able to use their physical power to get what they wanted. 

Being scattered and isolated, they had little understanding that there was any other way and even if they did, there was nothing they could do about it without becoming victims themselves. Challenges came only from even stronger strongmen. So, if you stayed low and didn’t get the strongman mad at you, you and your children could live and perhaps even prosper. The trade-off was protection against the external threat in exchange for just about whatever the strongmen wanted. 
In time, this became encoded as not just acceptable behavior but the desirable standard for leadership in Russia. It is no aberration, therefore, that most Russians still rate Stalin as their greatest leader and accept Putin’s destruction of democracy at home in exchange for successful conquests abroad. It is their norm.

The very name “Russia” reflects its nomadic nature. From earliest times their northern tundra was known as Muscovy. It was not until Muscovy started building its wannabe “European” empire that Muscovite propagandists adopted the name “Russia” as part of their efforts to hijack neighboring Ukraine’s history (Kyivan Rus’) as their own. In fact, the name “Russia” has nothing whatsoever to do with the “Rus’” of Kyivan Rus’.
“Russia,” pronounced “Rass-I-ia” in Russian (NOT “Roo-ssI-ia”), derives from the Ukrainian verb “rozsiyaty,” meaning to scatter, as with the sweeping movement of the arm when seeding a field with grain. The early Ukrainians described their northern neighbors as “Rossiiane” – “the scattered ones” – which in fact, with their small nomadic settlements scattered all over the cold and forbidding northern tundra, they were. 
While Western Europe was suffering through the collapse of civilization during the Dark Ages, Ukraine thrived as a center of culture and learning. European rulers sent their children to Kyiv to study, as Ukraine prospered from rich trade and stable agricultural communities. All this changed when the Mongols invaded.
Not willing to bow to any conqueror, Ukraine fought to the last, and lost. Muscovy went along with Mongol rule. When the Mongols suddenly packed up and went home one morning, Muscovy was in a position to begin asserting its influence, and with the urge to dominate ever more territory came dreams of empire. 
Russia’s burning desire to become a European empire, just like the Dutch, French, English and other “real” Europeans, set the stage for centuries of conflict with Ukraine. The newly self-proclaimed “Russia” lacked warm water ports, fertile agricultural lands and numerous other resources. It had no navy to cross seas or dazzle its neighbors.
It didn’t even have a very impressive footprint on the European continent, as most of its so-called territory was, in fact, in Asia. “Russia” had no deep European history. “Russia” had no Church to bestow the blessings of Divine Providence on its strongmen. 

Russia did not even have a real language. What passed for spoken “Russian” was a garbled offspring of Ukrainian mixed with various local tongues. “Russians” spoke and wrote in French in the court of Peter I and German in Catherine’s. It was not until the nineteenth century, when Pushkin started writing in “Russian,” that Russia acquired a real literary language.
The irony that Russia had to wait for the grandson of an Abyssinian slave to give Russia a language is not lost on anyone, especially since it was his grandfather (gifted to Peter  I by the ruler of the Netherlands) who built Russia’s navy. All in all, it was a pretty dismal foundation for an empire.
Just next door to Russia was Ukraine, which had much of what Russia lacked. Ukraine had a long European history. So, Russia declared itself the heir to Kyivan Rus’. Ukraine had an old and wonderfully lyrical language, one that could even be written! So, Russia declared itself the mother lode of Slavic languages. Ukraine had a long established Church.
So, the Metropolitan of Kyiv was marched off to Russia, where he was declared the “Metropolitan of Vladimir” (Moscow was not worthy of a metropolitan, even by Russian standards, until later) and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church suddenly became a subunit of the Russian Orthodox Church. Ukraine’s ports became home to Russia’s warm water fleet (a problem to this day.) Ukraine’s rich agricultural land (where rich, black topsoil is measured in meters, not inches) together with the people who lived on it, was given away to the Russian “royal” family.
But, Russia still had a big problem. The Ukrainians continued to want their own land, their own Church, their own language, their own laws, their own traditions, their own food, their own farms, their own wealth, their own borders – and especially their own freedom and independence.
As much as Russia tried to paint itself as Ukraine’s “big brother,” Ukrainians viewed it as a rogue young neighbor yet to be civilized. So, what would any self-respecting conqueror do with such insolence? The answer is obvious. Win what hearts and minds you can and kill the rest. And, that’s exactly what Russia has been trying to do for the last 400 years.

Although Russia’s methods have changed over the years, they have always been consistent with what was available and feasible at the time. There are limits to how many people you can kill with a sword. No matter how good you are, you still have to kill them one at a time. While you’re killing one, many others can escape. The countryside is open, transportation is slow, and communication depends on how fast a man can travel.
The process of Russification was not willfully less intense in the early stages. It was just slow and inefficient due to the lack of more efficient means. The emergence of more effective means to control, communicate and transport was paralleled by the emergence of ever more efficient means of segregating and killing those who insisted on being Ukrainian.
By the early 1930s, Russia had sufficient technology to move the destruction of Ukrainians to a level of slaughter not seen before or since in human history. Supported by the political will of Stalin, Lazar Kaganovich became the father of modern genocide. Joined by Pavel Postyshev and Viacheslav Molotov, these three Stalinist henchmen were the “Commanders of the Holodomor.” [5]
Kaganovich effectively closed Ukraine’s borders, controlled the flow of information, confined the target population, physically removed or destroyed all available food and then sat back and watched millions and millions of Ukrainians starve to death. He topped off his masterwork by killing millions more by traditional means, like shooting or freezing them to death in Siberia. Kaganovich’s kill rate remains unchallenged to this day – 10 million dead in 500 days.

Such massive slaughter is hard to fathom, hard to manage and hard to cover up. Kaganovich brought a whole new meaning to the word “diabolical” as he took to all three challenges like a duck to water. The disposal of bodies was a problem – not just the sheer numbers, but also the need to dispose of them in a way that left the least evidence.
So, they dug huge pits near railroad sidings, dumped in the bodies interspersed with logs to aerate the fires and burn as hot as crematorium ovens. The smell of burning human flesh permeated the countryside. Those who smelled it never forgot it – they took it to their graves in their nightmares.
Foreign reporters were taken on escorted tours of Potemkin villages, greeted by children neatly dressed for the occasion and holding large loaves of bread – which was soaked in kerosene to make sure the starving children didn’t eat it. Survivors report traveling for days in eastern Ukraine without seeing any living thing – not just no people, but also no dogs, no squirrels or other animals, rarely even a bird – the bone-chilling silence broken only by the wind. 

Into this wasteland of death Kaganovich brought native Russians, many from the military, to repopulate those regions of Ukraine that were devastated by the genocide. Many fled and had to be brought back numerous times. The abandoned houses reeked of death, the plows turned up human skeletons. But in time they stayed put, and gradually those regions became largely Russian-speaking.
Unlike other masters of genocide, Kaganovich died in comfortable retirement in Moscow in 1991, at the ripe old age of 98, attended by two faithful servants. When asked if there was anything he regretted about what he had done, he replied, “I only regret that I didn’t finish them off.” [6]  

In 1933, the USA and Europe were struggling to get out of a depression, and there was little interest in trying to come to grips with such massive slaughter, especially as it was so far away and the Russian propaganda machine was working overtime to deflect and deny.
Even the New York Times denied there was anything amiss in Ukraine. Their reporter in Moscow, Walter Duranty, a voracious pervert whom Stalin rewarded with drugs and sex, even won a Pulitzer Prize. To this day, the New York Times infamously refuses to return Duranty’s “blood-soaked” Pulitzer.

1933 was also the year President Roosevelt formally recognized the USSR. Persuaded by the likes of Armand Hammer (capitalist friend of Lenin, his Odessa-born father, Julius, founded the American Communist Party in 1919) and Averell Harriman (whose banking and shipping interests wanted open trade with Russia), Roosevelt knowingly turned a blind eye to the Holodomor.
Once again, the profit motive prevailed as businessmen from the United States, Britain and other European countries eagerly, greedily and without conscience traded the food seized from the starving Ukrainians as well as the gold, icons and anything else Russia plundered from Ukraine.

Then World War II broke out, and suddenly there was not just a new enemy – Germany – but the old enemy – Russia – just as suddenly became an ally. Much of the food that had been seized from starving Ukrainians during the Genocide of 1932-1933 had been sold to the West, and that hard currency was used to build and arm Russia’s huge military.
With its immense and well-armed forces Stalin became a “partner” of the US and Europe in the war against Hitler. Since Stalin won the war, he could write history as he wished. No one was going to suggest that he and Kaganovich be hanged together with others who were guilty of “genocide” (by then a new word had been coined to describe this kind of slaughter.) 

It was not until after the war, in 1946, when Soviet defector Victor Kravchenko published I Chose Freedom, in which he writes about the Holodomor and Stalin’s many other atrocities, that anyone besides Ukrainian 幦igr廥 spoke up about it.
When the French Communist Party denounced the book as nothing but lies, Kravchenko sued them for slander in what was billed in the world press as “The Trial of the Century.” Kravchenko faced down Russian propagandists and high officials, and even his ex-wife, as he marched in his thirty survivor witnesses. He won, thereby forever changing how the world looks at Stalin and Russia.
 While the Holodomor marked the height of Russian genocide against Ukrainians, it was by no means an isolated event. Under Russian rule, Ukrainians were subjected to tyranny that went beyond traditional interpretations of genocide, to what this author terms “metagenocide” – long term ongoing genocide systematically targeting for destruction not just a group of people but also all that defines them as that group. The goal is not just to deny the group’s right to exist, but to deny that it ever existed as a nation in the first place, to wipe it from humanity’s collective memory.
Russia’s metagenocide in Ukraine was pervasive, calculated, insidious and covert. It was at times incremental, at times opportunistic, but never losing sight of its ultimate goal – to eliminate once and for all, all things Ukrainian and leave unchallenged Russia’s claim that all those things were and are really Russian.
It combined the worst aspects of classic genocide with long term intentional ethnocide. Russia’s metagenocide in Ukraine targeted not only Ukrainian persons, but also the Ukrainian language, culture, history, churches, traditions and all else that contributes to defining Ukrainians as Ukrainians and not as just another subset of Russians.

Russian destruction of Ukrainian people systematically targeted first one segment of the Ukrainian population and then another, the ultimate goal to eliminate them all.  The killing of Ukrainians who insisted on being Ukrainians lasted throughout the twentieth century and for some, into the twenty-first.
Before World War II, several waves of killing destroyed the bulk of the Ukrainian nation’s leadership class. Ukrainian civil authority was eliminated during and after the revolution (1918-1921). The Ukrainian clergy and churches were eliminated in the early 1930s, leaving only a handful of Moscow Patriarchate affiliated churches controlled by the Russian secret police.
The destruction of the intelligentsia, begun in earnest in 1929 with the destruction of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, peaked in the late 1930s as the remaining survivors were executed or exiled, Ukraine’s premier historian Mykhailo Hrushevsky being among the last to fall. The Holodomor was designed to destroy the Ukrainian peasant class, the roots of Ukrainian national identity. Ukrainian nationalist leaders abroad were also assassinated, including Symon Petliura (Paris, 1926) and Yevhen Konovalets (Rotterdam, 1938).

Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union in 1941 and the subsequent obliteration of Ukraine’s western border created the opportunity for Russia to extend its rule and anti-Ukrainian state terrorism into Western Ukraine (until then under Polish rule). Ironically, Ukrainians were perhaps the only major nationality that got it right in World War II.
To Ukrainians, the Nazis and the Communists were equally evil – two sides of the same fascist coin. Wanting only their own freedom, Ukrainians fought both the Germans and the Russians, and paid the ultimate price when Germany was defeated but Russia was not. As a victor and partner of the Allies, Russia was allowed to take control of all of Ukraine.

Instead of peace, the end of World War II brought continued death and destruction to Ukraine and Ukrainians. In 1946, the Ukrainian Catholic Church, predominant in Western Ukraine, was closed, its property was seized, its churches demolished and its clergy killed or exiled to Siberia. In 1947, Russia inflicted another massive slaughter by starvation on Ukrainians, as more than a million died when their food was once again seized and shipped out to feed Russians and their newly acquired satellite states in Eastern Europe.
The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which had fought both Hitler and Stalin during WW II, continued to fight Russian forces in Ukraine into the 1950s, when its leader, General Roman Shukhevych, was killed in a shoot-out with Russian forces near Lviv. The struggle against Ukrainian nationalists abroad also continued with the assassinations of Ukrainian leaders, notably Lev Rebet (1957) and Stefan Bandera (1959), both of whom were killed in Munich by the same self-confessed KGB assassin. [8]

Having lost perhaps half their population to genocide, terror, slaughter and war, for a while Ukrainians were too weak to resist. Russia used this period to consolidate control over all details of everyday life in Ukraine while implementing a broadly based program of ethnocide to de-Ukrainianize Ukraine and try yet again to make it just another part of Russia.
In the 1960s and 70s numerous Ukrainian intellectuals, writers, artists and cultural figures were arrested and exiled to Siberia. Songwriter Volodymyr Ivasiuk was murdered in 1979 in an effort to stop a nationalist resurgence in popular music.  At the same time, the archives were purged of much damning evidence and crucial historical and cultural materials were transferred as Russia sought to rewrite history to suit its propaganda purposes.  Once again, it all proved to be only a temporary solution.       
In anticipation of the 50th Year to Commemorate the Holodomor by the Ukrainian Diaspora, publications began appearing about the Holodomor, including testimonies by surviving eyewitnesses. In 1984, the American historian James Mace began compiling oral histories of the Holodomor in the United States and Canada.
This led to the creation of the Commission on the Ukraine Famine by the United States Congress, with Mace as Staff Director. The commission’s landmark Report to Congress in 1988 [9] concluded, “Joseph Stalin and those around him committed genocide against Ukrainians in 1932-33.” [10]

In 1984, spurred by such allegations, Leonid Kravchuk, who was then senior ideologue of the Communist Party of Ukraine, began reviewing secret archival material on the Holodomor, at first seeking to dispel what he and other party leaders believed to be anti-communist propaganda. After examining 1,500 photographs and other documents, the evidence was so overwhelming that he concluded it was all true.
He wrote, “The faces of the children killed by starvation appeared constantly before my eyes. My conscience began to bother me as I came to understand that I was a member of an organization that could rightfully be called criminal.” [11]

The truth about the Holodomor had been suppressed so effectively and for so long that few people, not even the leaders of the CPU, which ran Ukraine, knew much about it. For over half a century, no one had spoken of it. Survivors had been terrorized into silence, and those who did dare to speak out were either executed or exiled to Siberia. Those born after World War II knew virtually nothing. The greatest crime of the twentieth century had become its greatest secret.
Despite strong opposition from other senior party members, in 1990 Volodymyr Ivashko, the new head of the Communist Party of Ukraine, ordered the first publication in Ukraine on the Holodomor, [12] that contained 350 photographs (with the “most terrifying” excluded.) [13] That same year Oles Yanchuk, a young Ukrainian film maker, received government funds to make Famine 33, a feature-length movie about the Holodomor. [14]

The 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl Power Station had already highlighted Russia’s arrogance and wanton disdain for Ukrainian life. Revelations about the Holodomor made it much worse. Long-simmering resentment of Russian rule came to a head in 1990 as Ukraine, taking advantage of the decrepit state of the USSR and an impotent Gorbachev, exited the USSR and declared its sovereignty.
A year later, Ukraine declared its full independence. Leonid Kravchuk became its first president. The night before the referendum on independence for Ukraine, Yanchuk’s film, Famine 33, played nationwide on television. The referendum passed by over 90 percent.
In a flash, Ukrainian independence proved all the old predictions about the Russian Empire. Without Ukraine, the USSR collapsed like a house of cards. Without Ukraine there was (and is) no Russian Empire, just a “Federation” unable to gain the respect it still craves from the international community. Returning Ukraine to the fold is among the highest priorities of the Russian leadership today. 

Since the collapse of the USSR, Russia has re-launched intense efforts to suppress Ukrainian identity and language – “the voice of Ukraine’s soul” – by directly and indirectly buying up newspapers, magazines, book publishers and bookstores, as well as radio and television stations, and even movie studios.
Investments in Ukrainian industries and the business infrastructure (banks, insurance companies, and so on) have tied Ukrainian companies to their Russian counterparts. Politicians are routinely bought to legislate against anything that supports Ukrainian identity and for anything that brings Ukraine closer to dependence on Russia. Incredibly, until April 2008, the head of the State Committee on Archives in Ukraine was a leading member of the Communist Party, which has always denied the Holodomor. 

Russia still casts a long shadow on Ukraine far beyond the media and archives. Those who cannot be persuaded to be “reasonable” still often end up dead. Some are killed in car “accidents” (Yaroslav Lesiv, 1991; Viacheslav Chornovil, 1999; Oleksandr Yemets, 2001), some are shot (Vadym Hetman, 1998); some are killed with the old-fashioned hammer in the head (Hryhorii Vaskovych, 2002; Ivan Havdyda 2002). [16] Others simply disappear (Mykhailo Boichyshyn, 1998) or end up imprisoned (Yulia Tymoshenko, 2001) or poisoned (Mykhailo Ratushny, 1998; Viktor Yushchenko, 2004).

Holodomor scholar James Mace died in Kyiv in 2004. Long aware that his work had earned him enemies in Russia, a week before his death he e-mailed fellow Holodomor researchers in the United States, telling them he feared for his life and warning them to be careful. [17]

The Moscow Patriarchate Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is heavily funded by Russia, regularly organizes pro-Russian demonstrations. Russians living in the Crimea (including many virulently anti-Ukrainian retired military types) are a persistent fifth column performing on command as suits Russia’s needs at any given time. Other well financed propaganda efforts are aimed at urging Ukrainians to stay away from the European Union and to fear NATO.

Every New Year, Russia precipitates a new “gas crisis” with Ukraine. It is basic political terrorism designed to create the impression, especially among Ukrainians, that ordinary life and business in Ukraine exists only at Russia’s pleasure and Russia can bring it all to a halt with a flick of a switch at any time and for any reason or without reason. This year, Ukrainians quietly squirreled away enough reserves to get them through the winter.
When Russia turned off the tap, Ukraine had enough gas to last it into March, but there was no longer enough gas in the system to get it to Southern Europe, leaving former German Chancellor and close Putin friend Gerhard Schroeder (curiously, now the highly paid Chairman of Russia’s Gazprom’s Baltic Sea pipeline project) rather “Red” faced.  
The mysterious midnight fire at the chalet in Switzerland where Ukrainian President Yushchenko was reported staying on the night of December 29 (the flames seemed to erupt everywhere at the same time and the chalet burned to the ground despite rapid response by well equipped and expert local fire fighters) reminded everyone of previous assassination attempts. [18]  
Few Ukrainians doubt Russia will continue to use the strongest tactics against Ukrainians it can get away with at any given time. Russia’s metagenocide against Ukrainians continues and will continue, using ethnocide, economic, financial and cyber terrorism, pseudo-civilian terrorist violence and ethnic cleansing. Military force and further genocide should not be ruled out if Russia should ever again think it can get away with it.
There is an old KGB saying, “If it is necessary, it can be done.” [19] Russia is still run by the same KGB elite and is still quite comfortable with the taste of blood. Bosnia, Chechnya and Georgia stand as strong reminders that Russia’s methods and goals have not changed. Russia will continue to be as ruthless as the world allows.  
Despite centuries of effort and tens of millions of victims, Russia’s metagenocide of Ukrainians has failed. Ukrainians have proven to be far more resilient and adept at survival than the Moscovites had anticipated way back when they decided to become an empire at Ukraine’s expense. Ukrainians have adapted to the art of survival. Even their national anthem is titled, “Ukraine has not yet died.”  Nor will it – Ukrainians will not allow it.    
World wide recognition of the Holodomor phase of Russia’s metagenocide against Ukrainians will not go away. No matter how hard the Russians try, their enormously skilled and petrodollar-rich propaganda machine gets only limited results from its work to dilute and suppress efforts by Diaspora Ukrainians and the Ukrainian government to educate the world about the Holodomor. Despite limited funds, incessant infighting and weak organizations, Ukrainians have done remarkably well in counteracting Russian disinformation and getting the truth about the Holodomor out to the world.

Ukrainians say, “You cannot drown the truth.” No matter how you weigh it down, the ropes will rot and the chains will rust, and the truth will float to the surface and stare you in the face. You cannot escape it. The truth of the Holodomor will not be denied.
“The most terrifying sights were the little children with skeleton limbs dangling from balloon-like abdomens. Starvation had wiped every trace of youth from their faces, turning them into tortured gargoyles; only in their eyes still lingered the reminder of childhood.” [20]
                The faces of the children will not go away.
      Close your eyes, Russia, and you will see them forever.
       Close your eyes, Ukraine, and you will see them again. 
                                                                      -- Peter Borisow
Peter Borisow is the son of Ukrainians whose entire families were killed between 1921 and 1933 and who emigrated to the United States after World War II. He is a graduate of New York University (history), and his career has spanned the arts as well as trade and finance. He lived in Europe for twenty years and speaks English, Ukrainian and Italian. He is the President of a privately held firm specializing in analysis and management of risk in film finance.
He is also the President of the Hollywood Trident Foundation, which promotes Ukraine and Ukrainians in the film industry and supports films about Ukrainian subjects.  The actor Jack Palance was the foundation’s Chairman from its inception until his death. His widow, Elaine Palance, is now Vice-president.
Mr. Borisow is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for U.S. Ukrainian Relations in New York. He travels frequently to Ukraine and is an advisor to the Head of the Film Department at the Ministry of Culture. He is active in Holodomor recognition and education.
[1]. Australia, Canada, Columbia, Ecuador, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, United States and the Vatican,; statement by Deputy Foreign Minister Kostenko, reported by Ukrinform – Ukrainian News, Kyiv, Ukraine., Nov. 18, 2008.
[2]. SSU (SBU) site English version: andшtazi&searchPublishing=1
[3]. See Herbert Romerstein, “Divide and Conquer: The KGB Disinformation Campaign against Ukrainians and Jews,” Ukrainian Quarterly, LX, no. 3 (Fall 2004).
[4]. Peter Borisow, “ABC’s of Holodomor Denial,” Ukrainian Weekly, LXXVI, no. 33, Aug. 17, 2008, pp. 7, 21.
[5]. Not to be Forgotten – A Chronicle of the Communist Inquisition, Roman Krutsyk, Memorial, Kyiv, Ukraine, 2001, panels 16-17.
[6]. This quotation was reported to me by a person who spoke with Kaganovich by telephone (in his Moscow apartment) around 1989 or 1990. I know this person well and deem him to be credible. However, he is afraid to declare this publicly for fear of retribution. As he lives in Ukraine and is now elderly, threats against his life and safety are equally credible, and I have promised not to reveal his identity.
[7]. Oxford English Dictionary (online) definition:  Meta-, prefix: A1. Denoting change, transformation, permutation or substitution; A2. “with sense ‘beyond, above, at a higher level’.”
[8]. Bohdan Nahaylo, The Ukrainian Resurgence (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1999), p. 23.
[9]. Report to Congress, Commission on the Ukraine Famine (Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1988).
[10]. Ibid., p. xxiii.
[11]. Leonid Kravchuk, We Have What We Have: Memories and Thoughts (Kyiv: Stolittia, 2002), pp. 44-46. Kravchuk stated that in the 1980s he viewed some 1,500 photographs of the Holodomor and that the most horrific ones were not published in Pyrih’s Holod 1932-33. In 2008, when the former president of Ukraine was asked by a reporter (Stefan Bandera, Kyiv, Ukraine) what happened to those photographs, he replied they were in the archives. Neither the author nor anyone known to him has been able to establish which photographs Kravchuk saw or if they still exist today and, if so, where they are stored.
[12]. Holod 1932-1933 na Ukraini: ochyma istorykiv, movoiu dokumentiv [The Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine: Through the Eyes of Historians, the Language and Documents], ed. and comp. Yaroslav Pyrih (Kyiv: Politvydav Ukrainy, 1990).
[13]. Ibid. This is a fairly rare publication, as many printed copies were destroyed prior to distribution. Known surviving copies of the book contain numerous documents, but no photographs. See also footnote 11.
[14]. Famine 33 [Genocide 33], Studio Fest Zemlia, Kyiv, Ukraine, 1990; producer and director: Oles Yanchuk, 35 mm feature, 90 min., b/w with some color.
[15]. Peter Borisow, “The Ukrainian Film and Media Sector,” Center for U.S. Ukrainian Relations, New York, March 31, 2005.
[16]. Havdyda was attacked by unknown assailants in 2002 and died in 2008 without regaining consciousness.
[17]. Mace said this to the author at a meeting in New York in 2003. The e-mail was sent to Cheryl Madden, author of several publications on the Holodomor.
[18]. Brian Brady, Matthew Bell and Tony Paterson, “A Swiss chalet, a fire and a President who crossed Putin,” Independent (U.K.), Sunday, Jan. 11, 2009.
[19]. Victor Kravchenko, I Chose Freedom (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1946), p. 39.
[20]. Ibid., p. 118.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
United Press International (UPI), Kiev, Ukraine, Mon, May 18 2009
KIEV - Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said his country should remove all symbols dating back to the communist era, which he sees as being as bad as fascism.

Yushchenko said the Ukraine people were hostages of two totalitarian regimes, communist and fascist, which he said were identical in their hatred towards human beings and their practice of committing mass killings, the Croatian news agency HINA said Monday.
Yushchenko spoke Sunday at a site in a wooded area outside the Ukrainian capital of Kiev at a ceremony to remember victims of the Soviet regime's massacres of 1937-1941. He said Soviet dictator Stalin's secret police killed and burned tens of thousands of innocent people, the Serbian news agency Beta said.
Yushchenko said that all over Ukraine more than 400 monuments with Soviet symbols were removed last year, which brought strong denunciations from Russia.
In another dispute, Russian authorities have rejected Yushchenko's proposal to declare as genocide the great famine from 1932-33 when several million people died in what was then the Soviet republic of Ukraine, Beta said.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]


Window on Eurasia, By Paul Goble, Vienna, Friday, May 22, 2009


VIENNA - Most discussions on replacing Soviet-era names of cities and streets with pre-revolutionary ones have focused on the ideological acceptability of Communist names in post-Soviet Russia, on the costs involved of making such changes, and on the confusion it introduces in the minds of some Russians.


But a new discussion now taking place in Irkutsk on the border of Siberia and the Russian Far East suggests that the process of renaming may point to some deeper tectonic shifts, changes that will redefine how people in various parts of the Russian Federation view their country and their relationship to it.


In Irkutsk, the authorities are planning to rename 16 streets and two city squares, replacing Soviet-era names with pre-revolutionary ones and setting up “information stands” in each case to provide information about the names being dropped and the names being restored to lessen the “shock” local people may experience as a result.


As part of this process, “Vostochno-Sibirskaya Pravda” reported yesterday, officials are paying close attention to the meaning of these changes.  Aleksandr  Dulov, the head of the city’s toponymy commission, told the paper that “at the start of the 20th century, of the city’s 185 streets, 93 percent stressed the particular features of Irkutsk.”


The city’s streets at that time featured the names of the original settlers and merchants and “thus reflected the realities of history, nature and productive activity” of Irkutsk, he said.  But now as a result of the homogenization of names in Soviet times, “of the city’s 700 streets, only 30 percent” have regionally specific names (


Prior to 1920, Dulov said, 38 percent of the streets were named for merchants. Now, none are. But the number of streets named for political figures has increased from two to 11 percent, those named for military figures from zero to eight percent, and streets named after ideological concepts from zero to 12 percent.


In short, the “political” names in the broadest sense increased from 1920 to 1991 from two percent to 31 percent, the onomastician said. And he argued that the city’s plan to restore pre-revolutionary names will give the city back its own face, a matter in the words of the newspaper of simple “justice.”


There had long been a Bolshaya street in Irkutsk until it became Karl Marx Street, and now it will become Bolshaya again. Lenin Street will become Amur Street, Dzerzhinsky Arsenal, Kirov Square will again become Speransky Square, and so on. But there won’t be a blanket ban on any name – and several places in the city will continue to bear Kirov’s name.


Nor will this measure be introduced “Bolshevik-style,” official say.  Svetlana Dombrovskaya, who heads the city’s administration for culture, announced that the changes will take place in stages.  First of all, signs with the new-old names will be put up alongside those with current ones, and only later will the current ones be taken down.


Once the new names are introduced – and Irkutsk officials told the newspaper that they would launch a major pr campaign to explain what was happening – the people of that city are likely to find themselves reminded more of what sets their city and region apart from the rest of the country rather and less about what unites it with all other regions.


On the one hand, that may contribute to the further de-politicization of names and the identities they supported in the past.  But on the other, it may reinforce or even power the rise of regional identities like “Sibiryak” or “Uralets” that the Soviet system worked so hard to undermine in the promotion of national ones.


And consequently, a step which may seem small in and of itself, the renaming of streets, could have far more serious consequences, helping to change the bases of identity within the ethnic Russian community and thus the foundations of political activity in a country that still spans eleven time zones.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

Ukraine Macroeconomic Report From SigmaBleyzer: 
Ukraine's Day of Remembrance for Victims of Political Repression
James Marson, Staff Writer, Kyiv Post, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, May 23, 2009  

KYIV - Thousands came to the Bykivnya mass grave northeast of Kyiv on May 17 to remember an estimated 100,000 victims of Stalin’s repressions.
Late at night at the end of the 1930s, tram number 23 would rattle its way from Kyiv to Brovary with a grim cargo on board: dead bodies. Victims of the NKVD, the predecessor of the KGB, they were on the way to be tossed into mass graves at Bykivnya forest.
On May 17, several thousand people gathered at the memorial center in the forest to mark Ukraine’s Day of Remembrance for Victims of Political Repression and remember those destroyed by the Soviet machine.
“Here, at Bykivnya, Stalin and his monstrous hangmen killed the bloom of Ukraine,” said President Victor Yushchenko in a speech at the event. “There is no forgiveness, and there will be none.” Yushchenko’s presidency has seen a marked attempt to revise traditional Soviet views of Ukraine’s history.
He has drawn international attention to Holodomor, the man-made famine that killed several million people in Ukraine in 1932-3, overseen the erection of statues to Ukrainian national heroes and ordered the declassification and publication of thousands of documents from the archives of the SBU, Ukraine’s State Security Service, known in Soviet times as the KGB.

In the days leading up to the Day of Remembrance, SBU archivists announced that they had identified 14,191 bodies in the mass graves using archival materials. The exact number of people buried at Bykivnya is unknown, but estimates suggest as many as 100,000 were dumped here during the orgy of killing from 1937 to 1941 that was part of the Great Terror unleashed by Stalin against political opponents.
Yushchenko praised the archivists for their work, part of the drive to declassify and publish archival documents on political repressions, the Ukrainian liberation movement and Holodomor that he ordered in January. Around 800,000 files previously marked “secret” and “top secret” will be opened up and made available for publication.

Declassifying the documents is only a small part of the archivists’ work, said Volodymyr Vyatrovych, the director of the SBU archives. As the files are declassified, electronic copies are being taken that are available for viewing at centers across the country, 14 of which have already been opened.
“All the stories reflect the larger picture,” Vyatrovych said. “We want to give people an opportunity to see the documents and make their own interpretations.” He added that there has been a marked increase in interest from relatives in recent months wanting to find out about the fate of their family members.
Some of those gathered in Bykivnya forest on May 17 had brought their own documents and stories. One lady, who gave her name as Natalia, said that her grandfather had been denounced to the NKVD by the head of the local village council who wanted to take his apartment. She claimed the man’s son still lives there and that she can’t get the apartment back, despite possessing documents that she says prove it belongs to her family.

Such stories are a testament to the paranoia and vicious self-interest that combined in an ostensibly political campaign. Anyone could be denounced as an “enemy of the people” as the purge spun out of control, even consuming people with seemingly solid party credentials.

Hryhoriy Brovchenko was an activist who had taken part in the 1905 and 1917 revolutions. But in 1937, the NKVD took him away as an enemy of the people, killed him and dumped his body at Bykivnya. His daughter, Olha Kostenko, was among those at the ceremony.

Yushchenko listed a number of the most famous victims of repression who are known to lie in the forest, including writers, poets, professors, doctors and priests. “An invisible link runs from Bykivnya to all of the countless cemeteries of the communist terror in our land,” he said. “All of Ukraine is part of this hellish network. The duty of the nation is to remember everyone.”
He also called for the removal of all symbols of Soviet repression from the country. “Ukraine must finally purge itself of the symbols of a regime that destroyed millions of innocent people,” he said, adding that 400 such monuments had been taken down in the past year.

Not everyone agrees with the president’s steps. The Head of the State Archives, Olha Ginzburg, a member of the Communist Party, has criticized the president’s decision to publish archival documents. The president has often riled Russian leaders with his portrayal of their country as the perpetrator of horrific crimes against Ukraine during the Soviet period.
Political analysts suggest that his willingness to touch the prickly subject of Ukraine’s Soviet past has opened a can of worms which is negatively affecting his popularity, which now runs in single digits.
“Many people who benefited from the Soviet Union are still alive,” said Roman Krutsyk, president of the non-governmental organization Memorial, which documents Soviet political repressions. “But lots of people who suffered are also still alive, and relatives of those who were killed. It is essential for Ukraine as an independent state that it remembers its past.”
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Eighteen burial grounds of the victims of the 1937-40 mass-scale
Soviet political repressions have been found in Ukraine

By Ivan Kapsmun, The Day Weekly Digest in English #14
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, 19 May 2009 

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has held a new public hearing to publicize declassified documents on the “Bykivnia Archipelago,” which the Soviet government had established to systematically and purposefully exterminate participants in the liberation movement and those whom the communist authorities considered security risks.

This Ukrainian analogue of the Gulag Archipelago comprised 18 places all over Ukraine, patterned on the mass grave in the Bykivnia woods near Kyiv. As a rule, the Kremlin government carefully hid and camouflaged all these places, kept secret the names of victims, and would often destroy the perpetrators “in the next batch” in order to conceal the true scale of the repressions.
As of today, the SBU has identified the names of 14,191 people sentenced in Kyiv and buried at Bykivnia. It is next to impossible now to say how many victims were buried in the Bykivnia woods.
The first speaker at the public hearings “The Tragedy of Bykivnia: The Way It Was,” Prof. Vasyl Danylenko, a Doctor of History employed at the SBU State Departmental Archive, reported that executions of political prisoners began at Bykivnia back in 1936.
Yet what is considered the official opening date of this burial ground is March 20, 1937, when the Kyiv City Council presidium resolved to set aside and mark out four hectares of the Bykivnia woodland “for special needs of the Ukrainian SSR’s NKVD.”
All this territory was enclosed with a high fence and barbed wire; an access road and a guardhouse were built. “We are sure that Bykivnia was chosen as a mass burial place not just by chance — it was a deliberate and well-planned action,” Danylenko emphasized.

Some time later, the bodies of those executed by the decision of courts and out-of-court institutions (the so-called “threes” and “twos,” i.e., special mobile USSR and Ukrainian SSR NKVD committees) began to be delivered here under strict guard. Sentences were carried out in the basement of the Kyiv Oblast NKVD Directorate, now Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, at 16 Lypska St.

Interior Minister Yezhov’s telegram of July 4, 1937, sparked a mass-scale terror of 1937-38 throughout the USSR, including Ukraine, which claimed tens of thousands of human lives. Every night 100 to 150 people would be shot and taken to Bykivnia, their last resting place, where they were buried in the already dug-out pits — several dozens in each. On the eve of the Soviet-German war in early 1941, convicts were shot dead right near the pits in the woods: that year saw a new wave of mass-scale terror.
As was mentioned above, the “Bykivnia Archipelago” spread out all over Ukraine. Eighteen burial grounds of the victims of the 1937-40 mass-scale political repressions, similar to the one at Bykivnia, have been discovered as of today. Among them is the place in Khmelnytsky, where a department store was built later, a recreation park in Vinnytsia, the 9th kilometer of the Zaporizhia Highway, the central cemetery in Sumy, and the 2nd Christian cemetery in Odesa.

“Those places were closely guarded. At different times they hosted top-security KGB facilities and construction sites. The 2.5-meter-deep graves were filled with concrete, the locality was leveled off by bulldozers, and trees were planted. In Kharkiv, this place was under guard and listed as a graveyard of German deserters and those who died of infectious diseases (typhoid, cholera, and syphilis) so that people kept clear of it,” Danylenko said.

The secret of the Bykivnia tragedy was revealed during the Nazi occupation of Kyiv, when the Germans carried out excavations in the presence of news reporters. Then the press published the first articles on the Bolshevik terror against their own populace.
When Kyiv was liberated, Bykivnia became a taboo subject again, and in 1944 the Soviet government set up a commission that concluded that the village of Bykivnia was a place near which inmates of the Darnytsia POW camp were buried.

The Bykivnia tragedy was again in the limelight during the Khrushchev thaw, when, owing to the efforts of Ukrainian intellectuals, a commission was established in 1962 to investigate the Bykivnia burial grounds, but the thaw was soon over, leaving the set goal unachieved. A second governmental investigative commission was set up in 1971, but it also concluded that those lying in the Bykivnia graveyard were victims of the Nazi German invaders.

The Bykivnia case saw changes during Gorbachev’s perestroika. Although the third governmental commission, set up in 1987, produced the same result as the second one did, the fourth commission, established in 1988, arrived at an altogether different conclusion: the 19th and 20th sectors of the Darnytsia forest hold the remains of the communist regime’s victims.
However, the second speaker, Candidate of Sciences (History) Oleh Bazhan, a senior research associate at the Institute of History (National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine), is convinced that, “to find out the true scale of the repressions, it is necessary to declassify and make public not only documents of the SBU State Departmental Archive but also the results of the investigations conducted by several governmental commissions and an investigative group of the Ukrainian SSR’s procurator’s office, which inquired into the Bykivnia tragedy in the 1970s and the 1980s.”

As Ukraine proclaimed its independence, the Bykivnia tragedy began to draw much more attention, especially on the part of Kyiv’s public. A joint effort of the government and the public made it possible to erect the Monument to the Repressed Political Prisoner on Brovarsky Avenue in 1995.

On May 22, 2001, the Viktor Yushchenko-headed Cabinet of Ministers passed the resolution “On Establishing the Bykivnia Graves State Historical and Memorial Preserve,” and on May 17, 2006, President Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine decreed to grant the facility the status of a national preserve.
It is also thanks to the Kyiv public’s efforts that victims of communist repressions are now honored every year, and on May 21, 2007, the president decreed to mark Day of Memory for Victims of Political Repressions on the third Sunday of May (May 17 this year) on the territory of the Bykivnia Graves preserve.
As Roman Krutsyk, head of the Kyiv oblast branch of the Memorial society, emphasized, “It is necessary to take the next important step — to ameliorate the Bykivnia Graves memorial preserve, which needs constant governmental support.”

Therefore, the decision of the SBU State Departmental Archive to declassify and make public the Bykivnia tragedy-related documents was another step in opening the unknown pages of Ukrainian history that testify to the courage of the Ukrainian people and the atrocities of the totalitarian regime.
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Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Kyiv, Ukraine, Fri, May 15, 2009

KYIV -- Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) officials have announced that they have determined the identities of 14,191 people killed by order of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and buried in the Bykivnya forest outside of Kyiv.

Professor Vasyl Danylenko, of the SBU archives, told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service that there are 18 places in Ukraine that were used to execute thousands of people during the Stalin era.

He said Bykivnya was heavily guarded in Soviet times and, though many executions were carried out in Kyiv, the dead were buried in mass graves at Bykivnya during the night. Before World War II, most executions were carried out directly in the forest with the victims lined up before ready-dug graves.

Danylenko said of the other 18 mass burial sites in Ukraine that have been identified, some are being used as parks, some have department stores built on them, or are serving as city cemeteries.

Ukraine will officially commemorate victims of political repression on May 17 when thousands of people will visit Bykivnya to pay their respects. Many people have erected signs on trees with the names of relatives they believe are buried there.
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Ukraine 3000 International Charitable Foundation, Kyiv, Ukraine, Sun, May 17, 2009

KYIV - Sunday, May 17, 2009, as part of the events dedicated to the Day of the Memory of the Victims of Political repression, the Ukraine 3000 International Charitable Foundation presented the "Broken Fates: Communist Terror in Ukraine in 1920-1950" historical documents exhibition. The presentation was held at the Bykivnia Graves National History Memorial Preserve.

The exhibition was prepared by the Ukraine 3000 International Charitable Foundation as part of its History Lessons program jointly with the Branch Archive of the Security Service of Ukraine and Vasyl Stus Memorial Educational Human Rights Charitable Organization. Its objective is informing the global and Ukrainian community on the repression system by the Communist (Stalin) regime in the 1920s-1950s.
The exhibition features 24 posters. Its first part presents to the viewer Ukraine’s situation on the moment of the collapse of the Russian Empire and in the following years of its fight for its statehood. The second part showcases the mechanism of repressions against all strata of the Ukrainian society: peasants, intelligentsia, the army, political elite, clergy, etc.
Several posters cover the history of Western Ukraine in the 1940s, after is annexation by Soviet Ukraine, in part, the forced NKVD repressions against the national liberation movement (OUN, UPA) and the civilians, as well as forcible people’s deportation to faraway USSR regions to destroy their national identity and diversity of the Ukrainian ethnos.
The exhibition narrates of the post-war repressions against Ostarbeiters and former POW, shows the places where the victims served their terms. It also contains information on the biggest labor camps mutinies. The final part of the exhibition shows the biggest places of mass burials of the repression victims, along with the consequences of the terror, and honoring the memory of the innocent victims in the Independent Ukraine.
The Broken Fates: Communist Terror in Ukraine in 1920-1950 exhibition is planned to tour all Ukraine’s oblasts. Additionally, its materials will be translated into several languages and distributed among Ukraine’s diplomatic missions in various countries.

This isn’t the first time that Ukraine 3000 Foundation turns to the theme of political repression and takes part in actions to commemorate its victims. Since 2007 the Foundation has been organizing actions to clean up the Bykivnia Graves National History Memorial Preserve grounds.
In 2007, the Foundation carried out the Memory Above Time patriotic action together with the PLAST National Scouting Organization, cleaning up mass burial places of Ukrainian intelligentsia from 1937 and the site where Soviet soldiers coming back from German war prisons were shoot in 1945. A memorial plaque was erected at the mass shooting site.

In 2008, the Ukraine 3000 Foundation members again took part in cleaning up the Bykivnia Graves grounds, putting in order a part of the mass burial places of Ukrainian intelligentsia from 1937. In 2009 the Foundation once again initiated a Bykivnia Graves cleanup, which took place May 16.
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Ukrinform, Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, May 18, 2009

KYIV - The Crimean Tatar people are marking the 65th anniversary of their deportation on Monday.  The all-Crimea mourning rally will gather about 25,000 participants, following which an international action of sorrow and unity will be launched in memory of the deportation victims.

In May 1944, Stalin signed a resolution on evacuation of Crimean Tatars from the peninsula for mass desertion and cooperation with fascists. According to different sources, from 180,000 to 190,000 Crimean Tatars were deported on May 18 - 20, mainly to Uzbekistan. Mass repatriation of the deportees started in late 80s - early 90s.

Currently Crimean Tatars make over 260,000 of Crimea's 1.9-million strong of population.
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By Peter Fedynsky, Voice of America (VOA), Moscow, Mon, 18 May 2009

MOSCOW - The State Security Service of Ukraine is establishing a special unit to investigate Stalin-era crimes against Crimean Tatars, who are commemorating the 65th anniversary of their mass deportation from Crimea. The investigation will also look into the forced deportation of other ethnic groups from the peninsula during World War II.

The head of the Ukrainian State Security Service, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, announced the creation of the special investigative unit in the Crimean capital, Simferopol. Nalyvaichenko said Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko ordered the creation of the unit to investigate crimes involving the repression and destruction of Crimean Tatars under the Soviet Union.

Deportation of as many as 200,000 Crimean Tatar men, women and children began on May 18, 1944. They were accused of Nazi collaboration, placed in train cattle cars and sent to Central Asia. Tens of thousands perished along the way, and others died of malnutrition or disease soon after arriving. In 1967, the Soviet government said the charges were false.

The investigation will cover the deportation era and the years that preceded it. The Ukrainian State Security Service has also declassified Soviet documents related to the execution of Crimean Tatar intelligentsia members. Nalyvaichenko says the forced deportation of innocent Armenians, Bulgarians, Germans and others from Crimea will also be investigated.  

Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev told VOA he welcomes the Ukrainian decision, but notes the purpose of the investigation is not to capture or punish anyone.

Dzhemilev says those directly responsible for the deportation are no longer alive. But he says it is important to see the full picture of the crime, and for society to know it was in fact a crime, because that will help in the overall recovery of society.
Crimean Tatars were allowed to return to their homeland in the late 1980s and about a quarter-million have done so. There are now about 300,000 Tatars in Crimea, about 12 percent of the peninsula's population.

But Mustafa Dzhemilev says no laws have been passed to reinstate the social and legal rights of Crimean Tatars. He also warns the culture and language of his people can disappear within decades if nothing is done to revive education in the native language.

Tens of thousands participated in a rally Monday in Simferopol marking the 65th anniversary of the Crimean Tatar deportation.  
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5 Kanal TV, Kiev, Ukraine, in Ukrainian, Monday, 18 May 09
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Monday, May 18, 2009 
KYIV - [Presenter] The Security Service of Ukraine [SBU] has declassified 63 criminal cases against repressed Crimean Tatars. The archive documents were transferred to the Crimean Tatar community on the 65th anniversary of the deportation [of Tatars from Crimea to Central Asia]. They were opened against members of the separatist organization Milly Firqa, which operated from 1918 to 1928.
The organization included representatives of the Crimean Tatar intelligentsia. The head of the SBU, Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, said that a special investigative unit would be set up in Crimea today to look for those responsible for the destruction of these people. The Crimean Tatar community wants the archive documents to be posted on the Internet and copies to be given to libraries.
[Nalyvaychenko] Through the criminal cases that we will investigate, through the research check, Ukrainian investigating bodies will ask the Russian side in each case to provide even classified materials concerning the fate of this or that person of whom we become aware. As soon as these materials are handed over, I promise that there will be a presidential decision to declassify them and hand them over to NGOs, and first of all to families.
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Many Tatars have returned to the Crimean Peninsula, but they
continue fight for the return of their land and rights.

By James Marson, Contributor, The Christian Science Monitor
Boston, MA, Tuesday, May 19, 2009

KYIV, Ukraine – Twenty thousand Crimean Tatars marked the 65th anniversary of their deportation from Crimea in southern Ukraine by marching in Simferopol, the peninsula’s capital, on Monday. The march was as much in protest as commemoration, as the Tatars complain that they have not been treated fairly since they started to return to their homeland 20 years ago.

“[Ukraine] has not passed a single law aimed at the restoration of the political, economic, social, and cultural rights of the Crimean Tatar people,” read a resolution by the protesters.

The Crimean Tatars had populated the Crimean peninsula for centuries before Stalin ordered them to be deported in May 1944 on false charges of collaborating with Nazi forces. Of the more than 180,000 who were sent by train to Central Asia, almost half died during the first year (for more on the
Tatars, view past Monitor stories here and here).

When they started to return during perestroika in the late 1980s, things were far from easy. Many sold everything they had in order to return to Crimea, and then lived in poor conditions.

Tatars now number around 250,000, or 12 percent of Crimea’s population, but although their situation has improved, a number of problems still remain, the sorest of which is the question of land. By law, Tatars should be able to receive land plots to build on, but the practice is very different.

“Local officials prefer to receive bribes for land than to share it out legally,” says Lilia Budzhurova, a prominent journalist in Crimea. As a result, many Tatars live on land that they simply seize and start building on.

The Tatars are also still struggling to preserve their language and have it taught in schools.

If relations were previously “hostile” between local authorities and the Tatars, they are less so now, says Ms. Budzhurova. “But the authorities and the media blame the Tatars for trying to get more than Slavs.”

Crimea’s population, more than 50 percent of which is ethnically Russian, is well-known for its pro-Russian leanings, which caused concerns last August that the peninsula would be Russia’s next target after South Ossetia.

The Crimean Tatars have been the Ukrainian state’s staunchest supporters in Crimea, and politicians in Kyiv (Kiev) were quick to offer kind words on Monday: Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko promised them “a prosperous European future,” and President Viktor Yushchenko has called for an investigation into the repression of Tatars during Soviet times.

But some Tatars accuse the government in Kyiv of not doing enough. Last week, one group went on a hunger strike outside a government building in the Ukrainian capital demanding the resolution of their problems.

The central authorities are widely seen as lacking the will – or the power – to influence the situation in Crimea. “Kyiv doesn’t know about the problems, or is completely indifferent to them,” says Budzhurova. “It is more concentrated on events in Kyiv.”
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UNIAN news agency, Kiev, Ukraine, in Ukrainian 1138 gmt 23 May 09
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Saturday, May 23, 2009 

SIMFEROPOL - The leader of the Crimean Tatar Majlis [assembly], Mustafa Dzhemilyev, and his first deputy Refat Chubarov have called on Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko to deliver on their promises and allot land to Crimean Tatars. They said this in a telegram to the president and the prime minister, the text of which was made available to UNIAN [news agency].

Dzhemilyev and Chubarov are concerned about the health condition of Crimean Tatars taking part in a hunger strike and picketing the Cabinet of Ministers' building, who demand repatriates be given land in Crimea. The Majlis leaders added that the World Congress of Crimean Tatars which gathered in Crimea on 19-22 May voiced concerns about the situation as well.

"We call on you, respected Mr President and respected Mrs Prime Minister, to take urgent steps to deliver on all the previously reached agreements and your instructions and promises regarding the fair resolution of land problems in Crimea and providing Crimean Tatars with land," they said.

As reported earlier, the Avdet NGO has been demanding that Crimean Tatars be given 845 ha of land currently administered by the central authorities. The protest outside the cabinet building started in mid-April.  [Passage omitted: more background]
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Black Sea TV, Simferopol, Ukraine, in Russian, 19 May 09
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Tuesday, May 19, 2009  

SIMFEROPOL - [Presenter] About 800 delegates from 11 countries have arrived in Bakhchysaray for the world congress of Crimean Tatars, the first ever in history. Over the next three days, representatives of the Crimean Tatar diaspora will work out and adopt the declaration and statute of the congress and elect the congress's governing bodies.
Organizers of the event hope that the congress will be held on an annual basis and will attract more and more participants every year. Our correspondent Liliya Abibullayeva attended the opening of the congress.
[Correspondent] Guests and participants in the first congress of Crimean Tatars were greeted by a folk dance performance. Delegates from 11 countries arrived in the Bakhchysaray palace of the Crimean Tatar Khans for the grand opening. First, the Crimean Tatar national anthem was played, then the Ukrainian national anthem. Many congress delegates are visiting Crimea for the first time in their lives.
Ayla Bakkalli, [executive director of the assembly of Turkish American associations], was born and grew up in the USA but her parents were born here, in Crimea's Bilohirsk. At the time of deportation [in 1944], they fled first to Romania and then to Turkey and America, Ayla said. Despite the fact that she spend all her life in the USA, Ayla has always considered herself to be a Crimean Tatar.
[Bakkalli, captioned as congress participant from the US, speaking in English overlaid with Russian translation] I will invite all the Crimean Tatars, living in the USA to come to Ukraine so they would see our culture with their own eyes, to see what the Crimean Tatar reality is like.
[Correspondent] Congress participants believe that the world congress will become the first step towards the unification of the Crimean Tatar nation after the 1944 deportation.
[Enver Kutuzov, captioned as congress participant from Russia] Russia has done everything to make Crimean Tatars flee their fatherland. We should return to our historical homeland, otherwise the Crimean Tatars will continue to remain a minority in Crimea.
[Refik Kurtseyitov, captioned as congress participant from Ukraine] This is the consolidation of our nation's efforts to solve problems which we face: social, economic and political problems. I think that the congress will facilitate the preservation of our nation in Crimea and resolution of its problems.
[Correspondent] After the opening ceremony, the delegates and guests walked from the Khan Palace to the historical Zincirli Madrasah. A Muslim prayer was held there.
[Correspondent] After the prayer, delegates of world Crimean Tatar diasporas and the Crimean Tatar Majlis [assembly] laid wreaths at the graves of
[Crimean Tatar historical figures] Ismail Gaspirali and Edige Qirimal.
[Refat Chubarov, captioned as deputy Majlis head] Everyone who has ties with Crimea, thinks about Crimea and cares about Crimea, who considers himself to be a Crimean Tatar and thinks about the future of this nation, all of them have gathered to solve our problems. They created the body to act on a permanent basis, which will allow them to coordinate their efforts and possibilities in helping their nation and helping Crimea.
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Window on Eurasia: By Paul Goble, Vienna, Wednesday, May 20, 2009

VIENNA - Beginning 65 years ago this week, Stalin deported more than 200,000 Crimean Tatars to Siberia and Central Asia accusing the entire nation of collaboration with the Nazis. But even though many of them have been now returned, most believe that the many unresolved problems their community faces mean that their nation’s deportation continues.

“Even their children, who were born in Crimea,” those who managed to survive Stalin’s persecutions say, “remain de facto deported as well since up to now their rights have not been fully restored and neither they nor their parents and grandparents have been formally rehabilitated” (

And the lack of resolution on that point, Refat Chubarov, the first deputy head of the mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people says, is “the greatest problem which is slowing the resolution of all the other problems” that nation faces, including questions involving land, language, education, culture and religion.

Over the course of three days in May 1944, on orders from Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, units of the Red Army and forces of the NKVD deported approximately 190,000 Crimean Tatars from their homeland. To their number were added a little later Crimean Tatars who were fighting in the ranks of the Red Army. They were deported on their return from service.

Of those deported, between 25 percent (the government figure) and 46 percent (that of the National Movement of the Crimean Tatar People) died, as a result of the inhuman conditions under which they were forced to live and the brutality of the Soviet officials who dealt with what these officials viewed as “enemies of the people.”

Beginning almost immediately upon their arrival at their place of exile, Crimean Tatars launched their struggle for return. Sometimes this took dramatic and at other times tragic forms.  As a result, many activists were thrown into Soviet prisons, where they languished for decades, or even driven to suicide.

Only in Gorbachev’s time were the Crimean Tatars able to begin to return to their native language, but obstacles put up first by the Soviet government and then by the Ukrainian one mean that there are still some 60,000 to 100,000 Crimean Tatars living in the places to which they were deported.

But, according to their leaders, Vladimir Pritula writes on the portal this week, “the overwhelming majority of the 270,000 [Crimean Tatars] who have returned or even have been born in Crimea consider that the deportation [begun by Stalin 65 years ago] continues to this day for the entire Crimean Tatar people.”

Crimean Tatar historian Gulnara Bekirova told Pritula that “such a prolonged deportation has destroyed practically all the nation’s infrastructure—theaters, newspapers, schools, universities, scientific institutions, a large part of the archives, and religious structures were liquidated and destroyed.”

Moreover, she says, besides this and “democratic losses,” what has been equally important is “the moral aspect” of the situation, “the continuing denigration of the entire Crimean Tatar people … and also the “ethno-cultural aspect – the erosion of Crimean Tatar culture and language and the almost complete destruction of Crimean toponymy.”

And despite almost two decades after having returned, the Crimean Tatars have not been able to make up any of these losses.  For most of the time, they have not been permitted to declare their nationality in official documents.  And what is especially serious for the future, they have not been able to reestablish a network of native language schools.

As a result of the deportation, Pritula notes, “hundreds of Crimean Tatar schools were closed.  Now there are only 15 schools (out of 650) on the peninsula offering any instruction in Crimean Tatar, and of those, 13 offer it only in the first three grades. As a result, Crimean Tatar educator Safure Kodzhametova says, younger Crimean Tatars do not know their language.

Equally serious have been the efforts by Ukrainian and ethnic Russian officials there to prevent the Crimean Tatars from rebuilding their Islamic institutions.  Mufti Emirali haji Ablayev says that the government has blocked the construction of traditional mosques even though it has allowed non-traditional Muslim groups to operate.

The mufti, who heads the Muslim Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of the Crimea, says that it is his view that the authorities have taken these steps because they want to play up religious divisions within the Crimean Tatars in order to weaken the community relative to the Slavic majority there.

More familiar to outsiders are the fights between returning Crimean Tatars, on the one hand, and Russians and Ukrainians, on the other, for control of land.  Most of the repatriates were former urban residents, but they have been pushed into rural areas because Russians and Ukrainians have taken over their properties in towns and cities.

For all these reasons an, although it is seldom commented upon, “land for the Crimean Tatars is more than simply a piece of ground,” Pristula notes. It is at the core of who and what the nation is and whether it will have the resources necessary to survive. Crimean Tatars see the land of their ancestors not just as personal property but as “part of the culture of their people.”

But as important as land is, there is another more important political question.  Up to now, 65 years after the deportation, the Crimean Tatar nation has not been rehabilitated politically.  Its members do not fall under “a single Ukrainian law concerning the restoration of the rights of people suffering from the actions of the Soviet regime or its vassals.”

Since the 1990s, the Ukrainian parliament has had various bills before it about the restoration of the rights of those deported on the basis of nationality, but none of these has passed.  According to Chubarov, if Kyiv adopted these laws, that would go a long way to integrating the Crimean Tatars into the Ukrainian state.

But more important still, until such laws are passed and until they and other measures restoring the rights of the Crimean Tatar nation are fully implemented, the deportation of 1944 will not be an event in history but rather a continuing tragedy, one that will fester for many years to come even if those who now ignore it assume that they can make it disappear.
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The Foreign Ministry of Russia is condemning Kyiv’s policy directed at rehabilitation of hetman Ivan Mazepa, considering it as an attempt to involve Ukrainians into ”farfetched confrontation with Russia”, Ukrainskaya Pravda reports with reference to Interfax-Ukraine.

The Information and Press Department at the Foreign Ministry of Russia paid attention to the fact “currently a monument to Mazepa is being constructed devoted to the 300th anniversary of Poltava Battle; President enacted a decree on a new award – Mazepa Cross”.

“On these conditions we hope Ukrainians will not let involve themselves into farfetched confrontation with Russia”, the Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry claimed. “We would like to remind Ukraine’s authorities playing with history, especially with nationalistic state, had never leaded to any good. When Ukraine’s authorities are trying to change a joint Russian-Ukrainian history, they split society of Ukraine”, is reported.

The Department paid attention to other actions of Kyiv directed at the oppression of Russian language in Ukraine leading to the tension in relations between Russia and Ukraine”.
Particularly, according to the Department, President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko demanded to take measures on mandatory compliance with requirements of legislation by officials while discharging their duties. “Also Ukraine is trying to pay more attention to the topic of Holodomor and political repressions”, is reported.

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Interfax news agency, Moscow, Russia, in Russian, 15 May 09
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, May 15, 2009 

MOSCOW - The Russian Foreign Ministry has condemned Ukraine for plans to erect a monument to Cossack hetman Ivan Mazepa and to establish a state award in his honour. Mazepa had joined forces with the king Charles XII of Sweden but lost a battle to Russian tsar Peter the Great in 1709.
In addition, the Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the Ukrainian authorities for "oppressing the Russian language", promoting the Ukrainian language and commemorating the victims of the 1933 famine and Stalin purges.
The following is the text of a report by corporate-owned Russian news agency Interfax:

Moscow, 15 May: The Russian Foreign Ministry has condemned Kiev's policy aimed at the rehabilitation of the memory of hetman Ivan Mazepa. The ministry said that this is an attempt to drag the Ukrainian people into "an artificial and unnecessary standoff with Russia".

The department for information and press of the Russian Foreign Ministry said that "currently works are under way to erect a monument to Mazepa in Poltava on the occasion of the 300th anniversary to the battle of Poltava, and a presidential decree has been issued establishing a new state award Mazepa's Cross."

"In this situation we have to hope for the wisdom of the Ukrainian people who will not allow itself to be dragged into an unnecessary standoff with Russia," the press department said today.

"We would like to remind the Ukrainian leadership of the fact that games with history, especially with nationalistic background, has never had any good consequences. Trying to rewrite the common Russian-Ukrainian history, the Ukrainian authorities are splitting Ukrainian society rather than consolidating it," the press department said.

The press department also recalled other moves by Kiev, in particular aimed at "the oppressing of the Russian language in Ukraine and stirring up tension in Russian-Ukrainian relations".

In particular, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has demanded that measures be taken to ensure that state servants strictly comply with the language law when carrying out their professional duties.

"The head of state has demanded that the setting up of a special agency for language issues within the executive be stepped up, noting that the full-fledged functioning of the Ukrainian language in all spheres of public life is a guarantee for Ukraine's unity," the press department said.

The department said that at moment there are two draft laws, which have been approved by the parliamentary committee for culture and spirituality, declaring the Ukrainian language compulsory for use in all spheres of public life.

"Also, attempts continue to give a new spin to the "famine" and political repression issue," the press department of the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
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Interfax Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, May 18, 2009

KYIV - The holding celebrations commemorating Hetman Ivan Mazepa is only of concern to Ukraine, Foreign Ministry Press Service Spokesman Vasyl Kyrylych has told Interfax-Ukraine in an interview.

"Holding Mazepa-related celebrations concerns Ukraine only. Ukrainian education, science, arts and publishing were highly developed during his office.
This was a time of political stabilization and economic growth of Ukraine… For Ukrainians Mazepa is history, not politics, that is why we need to avoid the politicization of his personality and accept the rights of other states to study and interpret their past," he said.
As reported, the Russian Foreign Ministry has criticized Ukraine for reviving the image of Hetman Ivan Mazepa, interpreting this as an attempt to fuel artificial rows between Ukraine and Russia.
Ivan Mazepa (1644-1709) was elected Hetman (head of the Cossack state) in 1687. He is known for signing an agreement with Sweden stipulating Ukraine's independence from "any foreign control."
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By Diana Dutsyk, UCIPR political observer
Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR)
Research Update. Vol. 15, No. 15/575, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wed, 13 May 2009

"The main common feature of communism and Nazism is that they both believe they have the right and even the duty to kill and kill in similar manners and o要 the scales unheard-of in history,” said French historian Alain Besancon, who visited Ukraine last year to present his book "The Trouble of the Century: about Communism, Nazism and Uniqueness of the Holocaust” in the Ukrainian translation.
The author guesses despite A. Besancon is not a citizen of any post-Soviet state, he risks to become a persona non grata in Russia (like many other sovietologists) and his book may be prohibited, if the State Duma passes the recently presented bill “On Counteracting the Rehabilitation of Nazism, Nazi Criminals and Their Accomplices in New Independent States o要 the Territory of the Former USSR”. This may happen just because comparing Nazism and communism, A. Besancon reconsidered the role of the Soviet Union in the WWII.
The Bill, Its Ideologists and Ideological Grounds 
The draft federal law “On Counteracting the Rehabilitation of Nazism, Nazi Criminals and Their Accomplices in New Independent States o要 the Territory of the Former USSR” was suggested by the United Russia Party. The document is dedicated not to the fight against extreme groups (like neo Nazis and others) or other practices of Nazism. It deals with the history and its interpretation.
The Task Force o要 its drafting was set up o要 11 December, 2008 in the State Duma Committee for the CIS Affairs and Contacts with Compatriots and was headed by no o要e else but Konstantin Zatulin.
Tough, the public attention to this issue was drawn o要ly after statements by Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergey Shoigu disseminated by the Russian media. Specifically, at the meeting with veterans in the Stalingrad Battle museum in February 2009, he put forward an initiative to pass a law o要 criminal responsibility for the denial of the role of the USSR in the victory over fascism.
S. Shoigu said, “Since the results of the Great Patriotic War, services and feats of the whole Soviet people are denied o要 the post-Soviet space”, the adoption of this law will allow “to defend our history, heroic deeds of our fathers and grand fathers.” "Then presidents of some states that deny this would not be able to arrive in our country with impunity. And mayors of some cities would think twice before demolishing monuments,” the Minister added. A hint at Ukraine and the Baltic States was obvious for all.
The respective bill was submitted at a specially organized roundtable in late April 2009. o要e can (and even must) find it o要
O要e must read it because the bill concerns not o要ly Russian citizens but also (even first of all) citizens of other countries. According to Section 1, its main goal, except for counteracting attempts to revise verdicts of the Nuremberg Tribunal, is “to counteract the rehabilitation of Nazism, Nazi criminals and their accomplices in new independent states o要 the territory of the former USSR” and “to resist the desecration of memory about victims suffered during the Great patriotic War.”
On the eve of 9 May, Russian politicians often appeal to such expressions as “to defile memory”, “to defend the history” etc. Even delivering a greeting address to President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko o要 the occasion of the Victory Day, President of the RF Dmitry Medvedev believed it necessary to stress this problem o要ce again and said, "I am sure the Ukrainian and Russian peoples will always keep memory about the Great Victory and resist any efforts to rewrite and distort our shared history.”
One can read between the lines of the bill or the above numerous statements that Ukraine’s efforts to know better its own history, inclusive that of such organizations as the OUN-UPA and such figures as Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych, will clash with an aggressive response of Russia.
Yet, if the bill is passed, Russia might not restrict itself to political statements. The document provides that while arriving in Russia, citizens, who violate this law (in simple words, those, who will think members of the OUN-UPA fought for Ukraine’s liberation from both fascist and Soviet occupants – and this is just o要e of the examples), will be deprived of liberty for the period from 3 to 5 years; some politicians may be declared personas non grata.
And if a country supports its citizen violators, Russia reserves the right to call a policy of such a country “unfriendly towards the Russian Federation” and, as a result, to decrease the level of diplomatic relations or to completely break them down, "to fully or partly cease rail, maritime, air, postal, telegraphic, radio and other means of communication” followed by the use of economic sanctions, applications to the UN and others.
To learn who from foreign citizens think differently than Russia, the latter is going to carry out monitoring and to take preventive actions, which will help it detect facts of “the rehabilitation of Nazism, Nazi criminals and their accomplices”. Under the bill, monitoring means the collection, analysis and evaluation of information o要 such facts, research activity, preventive measures, education and information means.
Monitoring and preventive actions shall be carried out not o要ly o要 Russia’s territory but also o要 the territory of the former USSR countries, including Ukraine, which implies more intensive work of various existing Russian centers and public organizations as well as the establishment of new o要es. The bill contains restrictions concerning the media and even scientific institutions – they could be liquidated if they violate this law.
At first, the bill was supposed to be approved at the first reading before 9 May but then its formulators changed their plans. Konstantin Zatulin stated "though the issue of counteracting the rehabilitation of Nazism and its accomplices is very acute o要 the eve of 9 May”, the Task Force will not be in a hurry and is going to complete the work over the document until the end of the Duma session, i.e. till June. This apparently may be timed to the other not less significant date, 22 June.
Conversely, o要 6 May, another bill was submitted to the State Duma for consideration, which introduced an additional article to the international Section of the Criminal Code of the RF providing for criminal responsibility for the denial of merits of the Soviet people in the victory in the WWII.
Authors of the first and second bills did not care about arguments of some experts concerning the availability of the national and international legislation prohibiting Nazism. They cared about something else. K. Zatulin clearly explained what exactly mattered, "In Ukraine, Latvia and Estonia and in Russia, there are tricks we cannot accept.”
Though, K. Zatulin deems unlike in Russia, in the countries of the former USSR, the rehabilitation of Nazism and heroization of Nazi accomplices represent “an element of government policy”. The politician says this is the reason why Russia as a successor of the USSR has to create respective tools for adequate response. K. Zatulin does not view it as an encroachment o要 the sovereignty and independence of states. He is certain, "There are things more important than the official recognition of someone’s sovereignty.” Of course, there are. And Russia’s interests always were these “more important things”.

Russians Support the Bill
Russian sociologists point out that Russians see nothing wrong with the adoption of the above bills. According to results of the opinion poll conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center in April 2009, 60% of Russians support the idea to institute criminal responsibility for the denial of the USSR’s victory in the WWII.
Also, Russians are unanimous enough about the results of the Great War of 1941-45: 77% of pollsters believe the Soviet Army liberated Eastern European countries from fascist occupation and gave them an opportunity to live and prosper. o要ly 11% (as a rule, these are young and highly educated respondents, who live in Moscow and St. Petersburg) are convinced the USSR imposed a pro-communist regime there, having actually deprived these countries of independence.
Some Russian Experts Are against It
Unlike common Russian citizens, some Russian experts rather critically evaluate the bill o要 counteracting the rehabilitation of Nazism. Aleksandr Verkhovsky, who represents the Sova Information and Analytical Center (the Center monitors radical nationalistic actions, combats them, holds public discussions o要 these issues and pays intention to illegitimate steps in the framework of counteracting extremism), is convinced this is a “dubious anti-Nazi bill”.
Comments posted o要 the Center’s web site ( read, "This bill is geared mostly against activities of other post-Soviet states or individual organizations and citizens of these states that can be interpreted as the rehabilitation of Nazism.”
Aleksandr Verkhovsky also stresses this document is not unambiguously positive for Russia as “the bill suggest to restrict the freedom of speech motivating this by anti-Nazi emotions but in reality it creates prohibitions, including those o要 expressions, which even under the law in force are not interpreted as such that incite hatred towards this or that group of people." This poses a threat to some media and NGOs to be simply liquidated.
In his article “The Law without Boundaries” (28.04.2009,, editor-in-chief of the Apology journal, observer of the Mayak radio station and the site and Candidate of History Dmitry Shusharin also writes about “internal” risks for Russia. He thinks the entering of the law in force will entail a danger "to posthumously condemn many writers and historians” and given the existing legal practice in the country “the law can do anything”.
D. Shusharin calls such the law not legal but propagandistic since "its objective is to make Nazism equal to national self-determination in the countries of the former USSR and to implant this thesis in the mass consciousness. And with regard to the fact that processes o要 the post-Soviet space are suppressed by the Russian media and are not studied by our expert environment, this bill is a part of the picture of the world, which serves as a basis for Russia’s foreign and domestic policy.”
Russian historian Yuriy Afanasiev attempted to explain motives of Russian power. In an interview to the Russian Service of the Svoboda Radio (, he emphasized all former republics of the USSR form their national history, which is somewhat different from Russia’s vision.
“Though this is very terrible because this another vision of our shared history allegedly casts doubt o要 the most essential and important interpretations, evaluations and stories of the history of Russia, the history of the Soviet Union,” the Professor says. In his viewpoint, that is why Russian authorities want to say with the above law, “This is what efforts to live another, not Russian, way mean. These efforts will trigger respective responses and sanctions and not o要ly economic and political but also military o要es, if necessary, up to the breakdown of this very hostile environment.”
Yuriy Afanasiev draws attention to the fact that the concept of the Great Patriotic War actively supported and applied by Russian authorities at a variety of levels is the o要e developed as long ago as under Stalin. This is why Russian politicians get so irritated, when someone tries to compare Hitler and Stalin.

About Servility and Ukrainian Politics 
Servility of some Ukrainian politicians towards the “older brother” is manifested not o要ly in political statements. In mid-January 2009, MP from the Party of Regions Vadym Kolesnychenko presented the Verkhovna Rada with the bill No. 3618 “On the Rehabilitation and Heroization of Fascist Collaborationists of 1933-1945".
The author of the bill attributed members of the OUN, UPA, Poliska Sich Ukrainian Rebellious Army (of Taras Bulba-Borovets), Ukrainian People’s Revolutionary Army, Ukrainian Main Liberation Council, Nachtigall and Roland battalions, SS Halychyna (Galizien) Division, UNA, Ukrainian Liberation Army and others to fascist collaborationists. The document provides for responsibility for the rehabilitation, heroization and propaganda of the above formations in the form of the deprivation of liberty from 5 years to life imprisonment.
Furthermore, just in mid-April when Russians started actively propagate their bill, the Verkhovna Rada Justice Committee decided to forward Kolesnychenko’s bill to the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission to study it and to make conclusions. This clearly coincides with the concept of Russian foreign policy because o要ly in late 2008, in the UN Security Council, Russia prioritized for 2009 the adoption of a resolution condemning any forms of heroization of former Nazis (see
Who are Nazis for Russia has been mentioned above. Though, it is unclear whether Europe will reconsider its attitude to this issue (because the Nuremberg trial has seemingly doted o要e's i's and crossed o要e's t's). At the voting in the Committee of the UN General Assembly, the USA was against the draft resolution and 57 countries abstained, inclusive of 27 EU Member States. Official Kyiv would rather develop serious arguments o要 this irritating issue, which it lacks now. In this case, silence is not the best way out of the situation.
How o要e Can Manipulate the Terms “Nazism”, “Fascism” and “Nationalism”
The author would like to start with the latest fact. Leader of the LDPR in the State Duma of the RF Igor Lebedev voiced concern over the legitimacy of the jury’s decision to nominate a Ukrainian citizen for the Eurovision-2009 as a representative of Russia. The Regnum News Agency quoted him as saying (11.03.2009), "The point is not that she is a citizen of another country though even this very fact is offensive for our voters.
The point is that she is famous for her extreme right-wing views, which she repeatedly stated in the media.” Moreover, I. Lebedev instructed the Duma Committee for Cultural Affairs to inquire information o要 the legitimacy of the above decision, which, according to him "directly erodes Russia’s prestige”.
There is another latest fact. o要 the night of 24-25 April, two Moscow bookshops from the Book Supermarket network were set o要 fire. Their owner Konstantin Klimashenko said this was done to make him to refuse the sale of Russian-language literature, especially books by Oles Buzyna. O. Buzyna immediately replied the arson of bookshops is the manifestation of Nazism.
Director of the Ukrainian branch of the Institute of CIS Countries Vladimir Kornilov shared the above opinion and the Russian media immediately picked it up. I can o要ly agree with the position of Sergey Rudenko voiced in him column in the Left Bank newspaper, "The story with the Book Supermarket evidenced law-enforcement agencies unfortunately cannot quickly respond to such incidents. And this means political speculators have a lot of tricks for provocations.”
And, finally, the author would like to remind some recent facts. o要ce, manipulations with the terms “Nazism” and “fascism” in Ukraine ended with political repressions for participants in the action “Ukraine without Kuchma!”.
They were officially compared with fascists (by the way, a notorious statement was signed not o要ly by Leonid Kuchma and Ivan Plushch but also by then PM Victor Yushchenko, for which he constantly made excuses). The Ukrainian media also actively disseminated information that participants in the action “Ukraine without Kuchma!” are fascists.
Specifically, o要 21 April, 2001, the Facts newspaper published the large article titled “The More Terrible the Lie Is, the Sooner It Is Believed” and subtitled “A War Is Waged in Ukraine According to Goebbels’s Recipes”. The article read, "Bow-legged devil’s lawyer Goebbels rises from the coffin to orchestrate actions of contemporary fighters for “Ukraine without Kuchma.”
It started as follows, "Crazy crowd under red-black flags with crosses resembling swastika, whistling sharpened rods, thrown stones, split blood, and aggression that captured the crowd that threateningly presses.” The most cynical in this article was the comparison of Heorgiy Gongadze with Horst Wessel, a hero of the Nazi movement.
As a matter of fact, these are not all examples. Also, there was a provocation with the “Hitler’s doll” and others. Yet, such provocations would be impossible if the Ukrainian society attempted to find consensus, by means of discussion, o要 its own vision of these evidently tragic historical events. Objective rethinking of their history will give Ukrainians more confidence and make external manipulations impossible.
Politicking eats everything it touches, including the so-called “historical truths”. Political mongers do not need such truths. It seems that it’s OK.
Though the point is they extremely politicize and instrumentalize the history. Every year, the squall of such politicization and instrumetalization appears right before the end of the final Great War.
And the range of this hysteria is increasing year by year. Memory about the Great War is still a painful wound. This is used by cynic manipulators, modern “history’s carrion eaters” and their marionettes both inside and outside Ukraine.
Summarizing the above, it has to be mentioned that nothing can be done about neighbor partners. They pursue their own goals by means most effective for them. Here nothing can be said about morality.
The o要ly thing we can do is to sweep our own house and get rid of either omnipresent “agents of influence” or direct agents or pseudo-patriots, who play into someone’s political hands.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Taras Bulba, 15th-century Cossack immortalized in Nikolai Gogol novel

By Ellen Barry, The New York Times, New York, NY, Sun, April 12, 2009

MOSCOW — Russia’s latest action hero galloped onto movie screens here this month, slicing up Polish noblemen like so many cabbages.

Taras Bulba, the 15th-century Cossack immortalized in Nikolai Gogol’s novel by that name, disdains peace talks as “womanish” and awes his men with speeches about the Russian soul. When Polish soldiers finally burn him at the stake, he roars out his faith in the Russian czar even as flames lick at his mustache.

A lush $20 million film adaptation of the book was rolled out at a jam-packed premiere in Moscow on April 1, complete with rows of faux Cossacks on horseback. Vladimir V. Bortko’s movie, financed in part by the Russian Ministry of Culture, is a work of sword-rattling patriotism that moved some viewers in Moscow to tears.

It is also a salvo in a culture war between Russia and Ukraine’s Western-leaning leadership. The film’s heroes are Ukrainian Cossacks, but they fight an enemy from the West and reserve their dying words for “the Orthodox Russian land.”

Mr. Bortko aimed to show that “there is no separate Ukraine,” as he put it in an interview, and that “the Russian people are one.” Filing out of the premiere, audience members said they hoped it would increase pro-Russian feeling in Ukraine.

“The political elite there will not like it,” said Nikolai Varentsov, 28, a lawyer. “But there are certain ideas that unite us and must be shown. For regular people in Ukraine, this film will be understood.”

The tension between Russia and Ukraine, which grew during a winter standoff over natural gas payments, has now shifted to the cultural arena. Both countries marked the 200th birthday of Gogol, who was born in Ukraine but wrote in Russian and is considered central to the Russian literary canon.

On April 1, Gogol’s birthday, Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin hailed him as “an outstanding Russian writer.” Meanwhile, at a ceremony at Gogol’s birthplace, President Viktor A. Yushchenko of Ukraine declared him unambiguously Ukrainian.

“I think all the arguments about where he belongs are pointless and even humiliating to some extent,” Mr. Yushchenko said, according to the Interfax-Ukraine news service. “He no doubt belongs in Ukraine. Gogol wrote in Russian, but he thought and felt in Ukrainian.”

There has been a vigorous tug of war over Taras Bulba, a character who combines the outsize proportions of Paul Bunyan with the speechifying of Henry V.
Gogol himself set the stage for the fight, devoting lyrical passages to praise of Russia and its people.
Ukrainian scholars, translating the book, replaced references to Russia with Ukraine or other phrases, arguing that it better reflected Gogol’s original manuscript, which he expanded and rewrote into the text most readers know.

Three days before the premiere, Ukrainian state television broadcast the first Ukrainian-language film adaptation, produced hastily on a budget of less than $500,000.

But there was no way it could compete with the Russian epic, the culmination of three years of work by Mr. Bortko, who is admired for faithful adaptations of Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot” and Mikhail Bulgakov’s “Heart of a Dog.”
Much of it was filmed by the Dniepr River in southern Ukraine, where horsemen shrink to black dots on the rippling steppe. Inside the encampment where Cossacks mustered four centuries ago, a thousand extras gorge themselves on brandy and war, crimson pants billowing.

At the heart of the film is great Russia. In the opening scene, Bulba, played by the extraordinary Ukrainian actor Bogdan Stupka, rallies his soldiers with a speech that was committed to memory by generations of Soviet schoolchildren: “No, brothers, to love as the Russian soul loves is to love not with the mind or anything else, but with all that God has given, all that is within you.”

Bad reviews began coming in from Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, well before the film opened.  “Russian history is short of heroes, and they are borrowing others’,” sniped Oleg Tyagnibok, the leader of the nationalist Freedom Party.
Writing for the Unian news agency, Ksenia Lesiv asked, “Israelis and Palestinians - are they also one people?” And Volodymyr Voytenko, a prominent Ukrainian film critic, said long stretches of Mr. Bortko’s film “resemble leaflets for Putin.”

“It’s a very imperial film, that’s what I’d like to say,” said Mr. Voytenko, who founded the film journal Kino-Kolo. “Everything else follows from that fact.”

Top Ukrainian officials did not attend the opening in Kiev on April 2. But viewers who emerged from the first showing said they found Mr. Bortko’s message of pan-Slavic unity deeply moving. Yulia Velichko, 20, a student, hesitated at the idea of rejoining the Russian fold, saying, “We fought so hard for our independence.”
But her companion, Valery Skuratov, was convinced.  “We should join Russia,” he said. “We’re closer to them than we are to the Amerikozy,” a mildly derogatory term for Americans.
Russians showed no such restraint. The premiere inspired viewers in Krasnodar to shave their heads into Cossack haircuts, and early this month Russian Fashion Week devoted an afternoon to a collection called Cossacks in the City.

At the film premiere in Moscow’s Kinoteatr Oktyabr, which seats 3,000, the audience applauded at Bulba’s “Russian soul” speech, and then again when the Cossacks thundered through western Ukraine, holding torches, to drive out the Poles. Among those who felt exaltation was an ultranationalist politician, Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

“It’s better than a hundred books and a hundred lessons,” he told Vesti-TV after the premiere. “Everyone who sees the film will understand that Russians and Ukrainians are one people — and that the enemy is from the West.”

Mr. Bortko, in an interview, said the state-owned Rossiya television channel had commissioned him to make “Taras Bulba” because the conflict with Kiev made it “politically topical.” He shrugged off the suggestion that Ukrainians might view the film as divisive, noting that he spent the first 30 years of his life in Ukraine.

“I have more right to speak about Ukraine than 99 percent of those who say otherwise,” he said. Ukrainians and Russians, he said, “are like two drops of mercury. When two drops of mercury are near each other, they will unite. You’ve seen this. Exactly in the same way, our two peoples are united.”
Anyway, he said: “I just filmed Gogol. I didn’t make up a single phrase.”

But as his blockbuster opened at more than 600 theaters across Russia and Ukraine, that conversation was just beginning. In Nezavisimaya Gazeta, a newspaper in Moscow that is often critical of the government, Yekaterina Barabash noted small alterations that Mr. Bortko made to Gogol’s text, which she said served to transform a wild Cossack into a respectable patriot, suitable for wide distribution.

“What can we do: exaggeration is one of the tokens of our time,” she wrote. “The cultivation of patriotism, which our government focuses on now, is a token and part of our filmmaking industry. One hope: history will show that such filmmaking does not live long. It will fall into irrelevance, when times change.
And Gogol — hooray! — will remain.”

NOTE: David Stern contributed reporting from Kiev, Ukraine.
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