Aleksander Biberaj: There must be a will by Russian politicians to condemn the
Stalin regime crimes committed in Ukraine and other territories of former Soviet Union.”
Interview with Aleksandr Biberaj, PACE VP and Rapporteur
Interviewed by Mykola SIRUK, The Day Weekly Digest in English #38
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, 2 December 2008
Interview with Olha Herasymiuk, Member of PACE Monitoring Committee
By Alina Popkova, The Day Weekly Digest in English #36, Tue, 18 Nov 2008

Window on Eurasia: By Paul Goble, Vienna, Friday, November 28, 2008



Window on Eurasia: by Paul Goble, Vienna, Thursday, November 6, 2008

Aleksander Biberaj: There must be a will by Russian politicians to condemn the
Stalin regime crimes committed in Ukraine and other territories of former Soviet Union.”
Interview with Aleksandr Biberaj, PACE VP and Rapporteur
Interviewed by Mykola SIRUK, The Day Weekly Digest in English #38
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Mr. Aleksander BIBERAJ, PACE Vice President, and Rapporteur on the issue of the Ho­lo­do­mor crimes condemnation com­­mitted by Stalin’s to­ta­litarian regime in Ukraine and other territories of former USSR, visited our country for his third time within the framework of his mission. In this visit the Albanian MP participated in the International Forum on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the 1932-1933 Holodomor in Ukraine.
In The Day‘s exclusive interview Mr. Biberaj explained why he agreed to be a rapporteur on this issue and why to his opinion the crimes of the Stalin’s totalitarian communist re­gime, spe­cifically the Ho­lo­domor should be condemned. Mr. Biberaj also ex­plai­ned why the Albanians want to join NATO and why they consider that Kosovo’s independence should not in any way used as a precedent for Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Os­setia.

[Aleksander Biberaj] “The Holodomor was a big tragedy for the Ukrainian people of that time. Millions of people became victims of Stalin regime. Our mission as politicians is to whiten what happened during Stalin communist regime in order to prevent those crimes in the future. Almost three years ago, the Parliamentary Assembly adopted a resolution for the condemnation of the communist crimes.
"As a rapporteur I have to prepare a report on the Holodomor and the Mass Famine in other territories of former Soviet Union, and I am sure this will be a very good contribution to history. It is easier for the politicians of former communist countries to understand what really happened during this regime. The PACE report will be prepared and adopted within two years starting from June 2008.

Mr. Biberaj, what did you know about the Holodomor before being appointed a rapporteur on this important issue?

[Aleksander Biberaj] “I had no idea about Holodomor till the collapse of Soviet Union, because of total isolation of communist countries. The history schoolbooks gave us no information on that. I firstly learned about Holodomor only several years ago in the Council of Europe when the Ukrainian delegation raised this issue.
Since that I became very interested in learning the whole history of Holodomor, and my request to be a rapporteur on that issue was approved unanimously by Political Affair Committee of PACE in June 2008. According to the rules of procedures of PACE, I have to represent the report to Political Affairs Committee within two years and afterwards it will be submitted for approval by PACE.
"It is planned to have fact finding missions in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, and maybe in other former Soviet Union Republics which suffered from the Mass Famine. The report will be prepared in two parts. The first one will be dedicated to the Holodomor, the second one - to the Mass Famine in other former Soviet Union Republics.

What is your opinion considering the fact that Russia is against Holodomor recognition, whereas other countries support the Holodomor recognition, including its recognition as genocide committed to Ukraine people? How about the opinion this issue does not belong to politics?

[Aleksander Biberaj] “I think it is our obligation as politicians to open the door to historians which write the history, because the world history gives us many examples of having closed this door to historians by Politics. Khru­shchev was the first one who spoke up against Stalinist crimes in 1956. Unfortunately, there was no possibility until 1990 to learn about the Holodomor of 1932-33.
"Now, after 75 years, it is easy for every politician to understand clearly what happened in that time in order not to have any doubts about those communist regime crimes. It is for sure that Stalin regime was a criminal one which caused lots of tragedies not only here in Ukraine but also in all former Soviet Union Republics. So, it is the duty of politicians all over the world to condemn the crimes committed by communist regimes.”

 What do you think about Russia’s position, in particular, the letter of Russian president to the Ukrainian one, in which Dmitri Medveded speaks about the “so-called Holodo­mor”?

[Aleksander Biberaj] “Yet I have not read this letter, but I think that Russian politicians should condemn the crimes of the Stalinist regime which were committed in Ukraine and other former Soviet Union Republics”.

Do you expect that Putin and Medvedev as well as the Russian Duma must openly condemn Stalinist communist regime?

[Aleksander Biberaj] “Of course they have to do so. All possibilities are created after 1990s for Russian politicians to condemn the crimes committed by the Stalin regime. According to my opinion, it is their obligation toward people and history.”

Was it easy to get rid of Hoxha’s regime which copied with Stalinist regime?

[Aleksander Biberaj] “Unfortunately, my country has severely suffered from the Hoxha`s dictatorship regime, even after Stalin’s death. If we see the history of Southeastern European countries, we would easily understand that those regimes softened after Stalin’s death, whereas communist regime in Albania continued the same as before even Stalin died. Hoxha’s regime fall in 1990s. The experiencing of Albanian communist regime helps me a lot of understanding what has really happened here in Ukraine”.

Can you say that Hoxha’s regime has been condemned in your country and it is impossible to come back to it?

[Aleksander Biberaj] “The history has proved to us, if we do not condemn the crimes committed by criminal regimes, it may happen again. But we have to be very, very careful about such tragedies often repeated in history. If people allow their leaders to become dictators, a dictatorship regime may happen”.

Your country received the MAP in 1999 and in April it received an invitation to join NATO. What has helped your country to reach its goal?

[Aleksander Biberaj] “Albania was member of Warsaw Treaty until 1968. In 1991 Albania was the first former communist country applying for NATO membership, and we hope that next year Albania will become a full NATO member. Successful reforms are the key issue for NATO membership. Also the consolidation of rule of law, democracy and respecting of human rights are very important issues. NATO membership is very important for every European country, for their peace and security.”

What is the main reason that over 90 percent of Albanians support NATO membership?

[Aleksander Biberaj] “The historical orientation of Albanian people for peace, development and integrity is the key reason for that”.

Is your country worried about the guaranties of protection in NATO regions after the war in South Caucasus? After this war the Baltic countries asked NATO to show the plans of their defense in case of an extraordinary situation.

[Aleksander Biberaj] “We feel sure for the security of NATO members. If Ukraine and Georgia would be accepted as NATO candidates during the Bucharest summit last April, there wouldn’t be any military conflict in South Caucasus. Therefore I consider that NATO enlargement is key security for every NATO candidate for membership”.

European integration is another priority of Albania. Your country has already signed the EU Agreement on Stabilization and Association. When will Albania be able to start negotiations for EU membership?

[Aleksander Biberaj] “This agreement was ratified so far by the European parliaments and 26 EU member states. I hope that next year Albania will start the negotiations phase with EU. I participated in many EU meetings and I saw a good will of EU concerning the admission of the Balkan countries, but the decision depends also on our reforms”.

Which country was as a good example for Albania for the implementation of constitutional reform?

[Aleksander Biberaj] “We had debates to choose the new constitution model. There were two options, either having our own model or an international one. I supported the idea that it was better to have a combination which considers the specific features of the country. In recent constitutional changes approved by the parliament, we choose and combined the Spanish and German models as proper ones for Albania.
"The two major political parties both from the ruling coalition and opposition agreed about the content of the constitutional amendments. I hope that the Constitution will be valid for decades in order not to make often changes of it”.

“The parliament may ap­pro­ve certain amendments to the constitution. However, the necessity may arise to conduct a referendum concerning certain questions. But it is understandable the difficulty of putting certain questions to referendum, because the voters may vote based on their political preferences. Irish referendum for Lisbon Treaty is a good example of that failure because the voters did not understand the technical details”.

[Aleksander Biberaj] Will Albania hold any referendum concerning NATO membership or it will pass through parliament?

“My country does not need to put this question to referendum, because our statistics show that more than 90 percent of the population supports NATO membership. The political parties are also unanimous for NATO membership.”

[Aleksander Biberaj] Your country is a neighbor of Kosovo, so what is your attitude to Russia’s usage of Kosovo precedent for annexation of Georgian regions - Abkhazia and South Ossetia?

“I assure you that Kosovo case is a unique one and it can never be used as a precedent. Kosovo has never been part of Serbia. Unfortunately in 1913 the Big Powers decided to detach Kosova from Albania and grant it to Serbia. More than ninety percent of Ko­sovo’s population are Albanian Kosovars, and Serbia carried out sheer genocide against them.

Many crimes were committed against the Kosovars. As you remember, in 1999 NATO intervened into Kosovo, because the regime of Slobodan Milosevic was conducting ethnical cleansing there. The intervention into Kosovo was an international one and was headed by NATO. I would say that unfortunately Russia is trying to use the Kosovo case as justification and pretext on South Ossetia and Abkhazia case. Meanwhile, there is no similarity between Kosovo case and South Ossetia and Abkhazia case”.

“Even the so-called argument used by Russia concerning Kosovo case failed after Moscow recognized Ossetia and Ab­kha­zia. If Russians used the same standards they should have immediately recognized Ko­so­vo’s independence. I hope that Russia and Serbia sooner or later will recognize Kosovo, beca­use this is a part of new reality which we have been observing in Europe since the 1990s. We know that after the communist regime collapsed, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia collapsed as well.
"Recalling history, we can see that creation of the USSR and Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia took place with the help of instruments of dictatorship rather than people’s will. These were artificial formations which could not last for long. And now we have many independent states which were part of the Soviet Union. Many countries emerged within Yugoslavia as well. And Kosovo was the latest moment of Yugoslavia’s collapse. Therefore this is a new reality in the Balkans. I hope that the West-Balkan countries, including Kosovo and Montenegro, will soon join NATO and the EU.”

[Aleksander Biberaj] Won’t Kosovo join Al­ba­nia?

“Kosovo’s and Albania’s aspirations include only NATO and EU membership. This is the future for the West-Balkan countries.”

[Aleksander Biberaj] What is your opinion for the relations between our countries?

“Our countries have good economic relations. Ukraine is one of the largest exporters of goods to Albania. We also have very good relations on a political level. I think that relations between our countries are getting closer”.
Interview with Olha Herasymiuk, Member of PACE Monitoring Committee
By Alina Popkova, The Day Weekly Digest in English #36, Tue, 18 Nov 2008

Ukraine is having a hard time getting the Holodomor of 1932-33 to be recognized on the international level. What with the Kremlin’s frenzied resistance, Ukraine has to struggle even for its right to submit pertinent resolutions for consideration by international organizations and look for additional arguments to prove its rightness and explain its stand, although it is self-evident.
Olha HERASYMIUK, chairperson of the subcommittee for cooperation with NATO and the WEU Assembly of the Verkhovna Rada’s Committee on European Integration and a member of PACE’s Monitoring Committee, believes that Ukraine has just embarked on the road leading to the international recognition of the Holodomor.
In the following interview with The Day, she tells about how the issue of the Great Famine is being dealt with by various international organizations: the UN, PACE, and European Parliament. As a Ukrainian MP, she offers answers to acute questions relating to current Ukrainian realities.


Ms. Herasymiuk, you recently returned from New York City where you took part in the 63rd Session of the UN General Assembly. Do you think Ukraine stands a chance of the UN passing a resolution on the Holodomor in Ukraine in conjunction with its 75th anniversary?

[Olha Herasymiuk] ”It is still a long way before the United Nations approves any do­cument recognizing the Ho­lo­domor as a crime. I think the coming anniversary of this tra­gedy is meant for us, Uk­rain­ians, for all those who have survived it, and their children and grandchildren.
"Ap­parently, this date will be marked also by the countries that have recognized the Holodomor as an act of genocide and a crime. As for the UN, we have just embarked on the road, although five years back we had a UN document relating to this problem.
"Today the new Russia is going all out to frustrate our efforts along these lines. This takes the form of brazen and open blackmailing regarding various countries. Five years ago, Russia signed a document that includes the word ‘Holodomor’ and recognizes the fact that it was a crime perpetrated by the Stalinist regime. This is no surprise, considering Russia’s vision of its current foreign political course, as recently voiced by President Dmitri Medvedev.
"He declared that the Kremlin will not remain indifferent to what is happening in the so-called outskirts of Russia, which include, above all, Ukraine — of course, the way the Kremlin sees it.

”In addition to these circumstances, we are witnessing how Stalin is being restored as a historical figure and a person who programmed quite specific imperial view of Russia’s role in the world. Therefore, I must say that the path to the recognition of the Holodomor will not be easy.
"I would advise everyone to be aware that this road is a long one indeed. The Jews upheld their resolution on the Holocaust in the UN for 62 years, so I hope you understand what I’m talking about.

”As for the current situation, I believe this issue will be raised during the 63rd UN General Assembly session.

”I would also like to point out that the more intrigue is generated around this issue (and given such harsh measures into which Russia translates this intrigue), the more interested the world is in what we are defending. You won’t find one delegate in the UN audience, even from the remotest country, who doesn’t know about the Holodomor or who does not believe that [Russia’s] blackmailing regarding the Ukrainian issue is redundant.

”I realized this when I was in New York as a member of the CE delegation. Even in the present conditions of financial crisis, terrorism, and reshaping of the map of the world, this all-European body believes that what we need now is an even closer cooperation with the UN, especially in the domain of human rights. We were there to discuss this need. We held numerous meetings with people who were in charge of various areas of UN activities.

”Apparently one of the most interesting meetings was with the UN official in charge of genocide and mass violence and destruction. We discussed the sensitive issue of genocide, its definition and boundaries, and what a post-genocidal country should do along this line. We found the following answer: no one should be stopped on this road by what is usually the simplest counterargument, which is a request to present documentary evidence. There is hardly any evidence of this kind left in these cases because such heinous crimes are committed in a different way, leaving no evidence for the future trial.

”The UN official said that Ukraine was doing the right thing by defending this issue because the goal that we set before us is what matters in the first place. In this debate the main thing is to know what kind of goal we have set. If it is to prevent this evil from happening ever again, then we must struggle on, come what may. Here the important thing is presenting our case to the international community as frequently and loudly as possible, making the issue clear and explaining it. This is the only way to guarantee that this crime will never be perpetrated again.

”This debate may have been more on the philosophic side, but delegates of various countries were genuinely interested. In particular, there was the Polish representative, who had not previously supported our stance on the Holodomor (while Poland is generally friendly to us in this issue).
"He said that Poland had appealed to Russia demanding that it acknowledge the mass massacre of the Poles at Katyn as a crime of the Stalinist regime. Russia had flatly refused to do so. This is another proof of the Kremlin’s serious determination to ‘take case of its outskirts.’

”The Holodomor is not merely a historical issue. Its recognition is fundamental because this is what we may face if we lose our state and independence and stop resisting the bear that is stretching its paws over all the lands which it calls its empire’s provinces. There is nothing anti-Russian in these statements of mine; it’s just that the threat to a number of countries is too serious.”

Not so long ago the European Parliament supported Ukraine by recognizing the Holodomor of 1932-33. Will this decision have an impact on the UN resolution in regard to this problem?

[Olha Herasymiuk] ”The European Parliament’s support is extremely important, and yes, it will have its impact, but there has to be many such resolutions; we have to struggle on a daily basis to have them passed, and not just in conjunction of the 75th anniversary, so we can cross it off the list.
"I think we’ll have to persist in this direction for more than a year-the way your newspaper has been doing it: not for the sake of awards or laudatory entries in the service record, but valiantly, never swerving from the road and involving in this complicated task people who regard it as a cause to be defended, rather than a temporary project.

”This is how this was done back in 1993 by the late Lidia Kovalenko and Volodymyr Maniak. They collected piles of letters containing accounts of the Holodomor by its victims and published a memorial volume which you can’t buy anywhere now, just as you can’t find any of those letters.

”The point in question is not the date but the fact, the principle, and the phenomenon. It is very important not to bury this ussue under the layer of red-letter day events. Views expressed by the OSCE and UNESCO still carry a lot of weight.”

We know that the Albanian envoy, Aleksander Biberaj, will prepare a report for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the Famine of 1932-33 in Ukraine and elsewhere in the [former] Soviet Union. Can you please tell us about the progress of this report and its special features?

[Olha Herasymiuk] ”The procedure for writing reports is not widely known, so let me explain. The thing is that it takes years to prepare each such report. At the current stage, Aleksander Biberaj has been approved and the first discussions have taken place during the autumnal session. His position is to study the Holodomor as a special page in the history of the Stalinist regime. He is investigating the issue and has already visited Ukraine and attended a scholarly conference here, where he gained a lot of [pertinent] knowledge.

”I met with him during the UN session in New York and we continued our discussion. I might as well point out that he has no doubts that the Holodmor was an act of genocide. He plans to attend our forum on November 22. By the way, among our guests will be the chairman of PACE’s Political Committee, who is the author of the report on the condemnation of totalitarian crimes — one of the best-known reports in the PACE.
"This report was successfully presented in 2006. However, the Holodomor issue was left out, blocked by Russia, and Ukraine was not mentioned. These two European representatives will attend our forum to voice their support and continue investigating this issue.

”There are procedures according to which Biberaj will come to Ukraine again to explore the areas where the crimes [pertaining to the Holodomor] were committed, study archival documents, and talk to scholars. He also intends to visit Russia, including the Kuban and Kazakhstan. He is taking a keen interest in this problem because of the truths that have been revealed to him, while many Europeans remain unaware of them.
"He says he will work hard to deliver his report at the earliest possible date; he isn’t going to spend many years writing it. Meanwhile, the Russians are delaying contact with Biberaj and have developed a strategy of playing for time. So this project will take a while.”

Ms. Herasymiuk, this August you forwarded a parliamentarian message to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), requesting that they monitor the situation with the unlawful issuance of Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens, specifically in the Crimea. Are there any results? Has the SBU been able to ascertain anything? Was this problem placed on the PACE agenda?

[Olha Herasymiuk] ”The SBU replied that they are also concerned with this issue. It is being investigated by competent authorities. They also promised that I will be informed about the findings on a priority basis, period. However, this issue remains in the limelight. We discussed it at the PACE session with colleagues from the Baltic countries, Georgia, Moldova, and other countries that are also disturbed by this phenomenon. We spoke about the necessity of a resolution on the matter.

”Many members of the Council of Europe tell us that Ukraine may be next after Georgia. Even if we are silent on the subject, it is brought up by others to keep us on our toes. After all, [President] Medvedev recently stated that he demands a prolongation of his presidency and is launching a new program to resettle ‘fellow countrymen.’ This program is being very actively implemented in Kaliningrad. He wants to deploy missiles there, too. These signs tell us that Russia is paying little attention to weak warnings. We all must be constantly prepared to defend ourselves.”

[Olha Herasymiuk] Do you think the South Ossetia scenario could be played out in the Crimea?

”There is no joking about the situation. We are monitoring the Kremlin’s policy. It’s just that we have to constantly work on it, rather than react to a possible sudden explosion, for we may simply be too late to respond to it. Implementing Ukrainian [national] policy in the Crimea is not easy, yet we are doing just that.
"Recently, criminal proceedings were initiated against Communists who seized the studio of the State Television and Radio Company. The Crimea will soon host a local drama production dedicated to the Holodomor with the support of the Symferopil branch of Our Ukraine. The Crimea is part of Ukraine. Our people live there.”

Ukraine obviously cannot count on being granted the Membership Action Plan in December. Who do you think is to blame for this situation?

[Olha Herasymiuk] ”The situation in country is least conducive to state-building, for the time being anyway. There are probably objective reasons for this. The politicians and individuals that have to remain in politics should be those who address the issues of the state, rather than do what they are doing now. There we need to have new statesmen and people who have already brought great, real benefits to this country and whose accomplishments are still being used.

”I think that we are in a very complicated situation now, in particular because the rest of the world no longer admires some of our politicians. Previously, after Yulia Tymoshenko delivered her speech in Brussels, Javier Solana would quote her. This euphoria is no longer there. The world is disturbed but what is happening between the branches of power in Ukraine. It certainly does not reject Ukraine. On the contrary, Ukraine is now in the limelight with the European and international communities. They are willing to help Ukraine on this road.

”I see nothing fatal about what is happening on our road to progress. The world wants to have Ukraine with its tremendous intellectual potential, traditions, history, and capacities. I think that we should continue on our course toward Euro-Atlantic integration. We shouldn’t let any failures depress us. This is a special course that has to be mapped out by experts, not amateurs.

”Our society must also share the responsibility for the invidividuals it elects to be its leaders. We must advance individuals who will eventually go down in history as those who have helped this country’s progress, rather than comic or scandalous characters, as is, regrettably, the case today.”

Why do you think our politicians cannot join efforts and come to an agreement even now, in the conditions of the world financial crisis?

[Olha Herasymiuk] ”Such is the level of their professionalism: frankly, it is not very high. I also believe that this situation will continue until the election campaign separates the chaff from the grain so good bread can be baked. This society must duly assess its politicians, and it’s not worth relying on the images generated by Internet mass media and political shows. Our media are shaping the wrong kind of politicians. As a rule, on our television screens we see those who tend to wrangle in a loud way. This forms a certain [public] attitude to [our] politics, so our society must learn to respond to this kind of offer and this kind of television.”

Aren’t you tired of politics? For example, Sviatoslav Vakarchuk couldn’t stand it any longer and called it quits.

[Olha Herasymiuk] ”What Vakarchuk did is not an example for me. He must have had no goal, considering that he took up politics and got tired of it so quickly even though he promised he would not give up without a fight, as he sang in his song. You can get tired doing something tiresome and burdensome only if you don’t understand why you are doing it.

”Indeed, building an independent state is a hard task, like a stonemason’s work. It can never be easy, much less so in our situation. Ukraine is the goal of my life. I have made a conscious choice, so I don’t accept the notion of fatigue in this sense. Nor should our society get tired or disillusioned — mind you, our society has changed.
The Maidan demonstrated that we are different from what we were before and that we have willpower. It would be a crime against Ukraine to say, ‘Well, we have failed so let’s go back.’ I can predict that there will be more snap elections and more fiascos, but this is our road. It cannot be any different.”



Window on Eurasia: By Paul Goble, Vienna, Friday, November 28, 2008


Vienna, November 28 – Kyiv's efforts to call attention to Stalin's terror famine on the 75th anniversary of that tragedy and especially its moves to gain international recognition of it as a genocide against the Ukrainian people has generated much criticism by Russian officials from President Dmitry Medvedev on down as well as from numerous Moscow commentators.


But one of the most intriguing consequences of the Ukrainian discussion of the famine has so far passed largely unremarked: What Kyiv has been doing has prompted some in both the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan, whose peoples suffered greatly from the same Kremlin-organized famine, to ask why Moscow and Astana have not paid equal attention to this tragedy.


And that in turn has prompted some in the Russian Federation at least to suggest that the Russian government set aside a special day of memory of the victims of the mass hunger of the 1930s, proposals that in the current environment may spark more discussions among the Russian people about what Stalin did to them.


In an essay posted online this week, Moscow political analyst Andrey Okara says that he is both uncomfortable and ashamed that the memory of the millions of Russians who died in the 1933 famine in the RSFSR is not officially marked in the Russian Federation at the present time (


In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he points out, Russians paid homage to the memory of those repressed by Stalin between 1934 and 1937, but "the victims of 1932-33 did not have such "advocates" even though the number who died in the famine, which most investigators say, was the product of Stalin's policies, was far larger.


The reaction of Russian officials to Ukrainian efforts to remember that tragedy, Okara continues, has been extremely unfortunate: Moscow's approach has infuriated many pro-Russian Ukrainians, been ineffective, and "not always moral because when one is speaking about millions" of deaths, political calculations are inappropriate.


And their fear that Kyiv will demand compensation from Moscow if anyone talks about the victims is misplaced.  On the one hand, Ukraine is just as much a legal successor of the USSR as Russia is, and on the other, the organizers of the famine were "not Russia and the Russian people but the Stalinist political machine.


Such absurdities are listened to, Okara says, only because "now it is considered that Stalin was an effective manager."  And if one  considers only the number of his victims 75 years ago in the famine that hit much of the Soviet peasantry, he was quite clearly "a super-effective" if not an especially admirable one.


Meanwhile, in Kazakhstan, Serik Maleyev, an Almaty commentator, pointedly asks "why the Kazakhs are silent" on the issue of the famine.  After all, he says, from three to 4.5 million Kazakhs lost their lives as a result of Moscow's policies between 1918 and 1932 and another million fled the republic (


The answer he provides to his own question does little credit to the moral sense of the Kazakhstan leadership.  According to Maleyev, Kazakh officials are not talking about this tragedy because they see themselves being drawn into a political struggle on the side of Moscow which denies the famine was a genocide or of Kyiv which insists that it was.


In fact, on issues of this kind, he just like his Russian counterpart argues that political calculations have no place.  And he insists that the voice of the Kazakhs Ought to be heard and heard loudly as this debate goes forward if for no other reason than the memory of those who died in Kazakhstan.


Some in Russia at least are beginning to speak out.  At a meeting in Moscow earlier this month clearly assembled to denounce Ukrainian efforts to define the famine as a genocide against Ukrainians, speaker after speaker insisted that Russians had suffered as much or more than the latter.


And one of them, Duma deputy and political commentator Sergey Markov proposed organizing an annual day of memory of the victims of the terror famine.  That idea has found support in the Russian Orthodox Church, which among other things, is extremely concerned about the consequences for itself of the stand-off between Moscow and Kyiv on this issue.


Father Georgy Ryabykh, the secretary for church ties to society in the Moscow Patriarchate's powerful External Relations Department, has come out in support of declaring a national day of mourning every November 22 in order to recall the victims of the famine of the early 1930s



"The establishment of such a memorial day," he says, is a time for remembering "our compatriots who loved to work, loved their Fatherland, and were true to their faith." In taking this step, he continues, there is no need for repentance or self-laceration. "We need only remember the dead and honor their memory."




Window on Eurasia: by Paul Goble, Vienna, Thursday, November 6, 2008


VIENNA - Tatar nationalists have appealed to the United Nations to recognize the 1921-22 famine in the Middle Volga as a genocide organized by Bolshevik Russia to destroy the Tatar nation and its elite and reduce Tatarstan's opportunities to develop its own national life and pursue its independence.


Rafiz Kashapov, who heads the All-Russian Tatar Social Center (VTSTs) in Naberezhny Chelny and has long been pursued by Russian officials for his activities, says what Moscow did to the Tatars helped Moscow prepare "the terror famine" against the Ukainians (  


The efforts of Kashapov and his colleagues to prove their case regarding the famine in the early 1920 are unlikely to be successful.  There is simply too much evidence that the famine at that time was the result of disorganization and bad weather than official action (On this, see 


But his and their statements in this regard are nonetheless important both as an effort to expand Tatar ties with Ukrainians and with the active Ukrainian diaspora and as a means of attracting attention to the increasingly tight Russian control of the media in Tatarstan.


Three days ago, Kashapov gave his first interview to a Ukrainian outlet, pointing out that he had given numerous interviews to American, Japanese, Turkish and European journalists but that now Ukrainian media were ever more important for the Tatars (


According to the VTOTs activists, there are only two remaining news outlets providing "objective information" about the national aspirations of the Tatars and the Tatar movement: the Tatar service of Radio Liberty and the newspaper "Zvezda Povol'szhya."


All "other outlets of the mass media," he said, "are under the tight control of the FSB." And because of that and because of the increasing persecution of Tatars and Tatar nationalist activists like himself, Kashapov said, even VTOTs is significantly less active than it was a decade ago.


Moscow, he continued, has prohibited the opening of a Tatar national university, it has prevented the Tatars from shifting their language to a Latin-based script, and it has closed numerous Tatar schools, newspapers, radio stations and journals, actions that have struck at the heart of the nation.


And because of that, even the VTOTs organization has become less active and effective, Kashapov said.  There are 138 sections of the organization on paper, but "in fact, one can count on one's fingers the number that are genuinely active compared to the situation in the 1990s, "the result of the work of [Moscow's] repressive regime." 


But recently there have been some encouraging signs of a rebirth of Tatar nationalism, Kashapov indicated, and one of the ways to help that process along is for the Tatars to link up with other nations, like the Ukrainians, who have also been victims in the past of Moscow's imperial and genocidal policies.


Thus, although the Tatar appeal to the United Nations is not going to succeed in the narrow juridical sense, it has the potential to create Moscow's worst nightmare – the linking up of various non-Russian groups who have often focused only on their own problems rather on their common victimhood.


And if the Ukrainians respond to Kashapov's efforts, then there is a possibility that the synergy between the two nations and the two national movements will be far more influential on the future course of events than any declaration however worded by the United Nations or other international body.   


Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Director
Government Affairs, Washington Office
SigmaBleyzer Private Equity Investment Group
President/CEO, U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC)

Founder/Trustee, "Holodomor: Through The Eyes of Ukrainian Artists"
Publisher & Editor, Action Ukraine Report (AUR)
1701 K Street, NW, Suite 903, Washington, D.C. 20006
Telephone: 202 437 4707; Fax: 202 223 1224
[email protected]; [email protected];