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16 May, 2008 15:05

Europe rejects Ukraine’s famine claim

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has rebuffed Ukraine’s efforts to have the famine of the 1930s recognised solely as a tragedy of the Ukrainian people. The body says the event was an international tragedy.

Moscow’s representative to PACE has reaffirmed Russia’s position that other nations were affected by the famine.
Holodomor, or the Great Famine, was one of the largest catastrophes to hit Ukraine during the Soviet era. Joseph Stalin's agricultural reforms affected all the grain-growing regions of the Soviet Union, such as the Urals and Kazakhstan. However, Ukraine bore the heaviest toll.

Ukrainian historians say up to ten million people died during the famine in the early 1930s.

The famine is thought to have been instigated by Stalin's campaign to force peasants to give up their land and join collective farms. Ukrainian wheat was shipped out of the country leaving millions without food.

In order to survive, many resorted to cannibalism.

The Ukrainian leadership believes the Communist regime of the time is to blame for the disaster and continues to call on Russia and other nations to recognise the event as genocide.

“Should we act like the communists did for the last 85 years, erasing the facts from our memory?” President Viktor Yushchenko asked.

“I don’t want my children, my family and my people to be deprived of the truth. In the village where I was born, out of 5,000 people one third didn’t survive because of the famine. We’ll be a crippled nation if we reject our history,” he said.

Russia admits the famine was artificially engineered by the Soviet rulers and treats the actions taken by authorities at the time as criminal. However, it denies it was an early attempt at ethic cleansing.

TV presenter and journalist Dmitry Kiselyov makes the point that Holodomor is an American term created by James Mace, an American historian, to justify the ethnic genocide of Ukrainians.

“The ethnic selectiveness during Holodomor has no proof. Some seven to eight million died back then, 3.5 million of them lived on Ukrainian territory, but there were also Jews, Poles, Russians and Georgians among them,” Kiselyov said.

The famine is a sore point between Russia and Ukraine. Russia continues to stress the Ukrainian famine wasn't genocide and shouldn't be used as a political tool.