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19 Dec, 2009 07:09

Ukrainian political analyst under fire for views on 1930s famine

A Ukrainian political analyst is under scrutiny by security services due to his views on the 1930s USSR famine, the Holodomor, which differs from the authorities’ stance that it was genocide against the Ukrainian people.

After dozens of articles, political analyst Viktor Pirozhenko could be best described as the hard man of modern-day Ukraine – and his strident opinions have caused mixed reactions.

“I criticize the country’s current leadership for policies which are openly ethnically discriminatory and which favor ethnic Ukrainians. I criticize them for reviving neo-Nazism in the country and falsifying history. And, of course, I bring facts to support my point of view,” political analyst Viktor Pirozhenko says.

In one of his articles, Pirozhenko focused on disputed cases of the disastrous 1930s famine in Ukraine. Kiev accuses the Soviet leadership of deliberate genocide directed against Ukrainians.

Many historians – in and beyond Ukraine – stress that the tragedy affected the whole of the USSR.

Pirozhenko says Kiev’s spin is aimed at turning modern-day Ukraine against Russia.

Now the Ukrainian Security Service has got into the act, claiming such views are against the law.

The SBU turned to the state commission on ethics and morality to determine whether that was so.

Just days after the security probe began into Viktor Pirozhenko’s articles, the commission came out with a ruling saying articles which described “the New Ukrainian history as an operation on changing national consciousness” were against the law, and even posed a threat to national security.

President Yushchenko had proposed prosecuting those who deny the 1930’s famine was genocide against Ukrainians. But that never became law. So Pirozhenko does not quite understand what he has done wrong.

“This commission for ethics and morality monitors the media to prevent popularization of violence and pornography. I have no idea what my articles have to do with that. Moreover, I don’t understand which laws I have violated, as my works are purely theoretical. They are historical analysis based on facts and have no calls for violence, separatism or revolution,” Viktor Pirozhenko says.

Vladimir Kornilov heads the Kiev-based CIS countries institution. He says his center has also been a target of the security services.

“The Head of the SBU once said that our center needed to be closed. This happened after we held a conference in Kiev on the 1930s famine. The paradox is that President Yushchenko called for thorough discussions of this issue, and then they wanted to punish us for the conference,” says Vladimir Kornilov, analyst from the CIS Countries Institution.

But Kornilov says the case of Viktor Pirozhenko is nevertheless a mystery to him.

“I know Pirozhenko’s articles very well. And I wouldn’t say that he is radical in his beliefs. Many of us write about these issues. And Pirozhenko – on the contrary – has been very balanced in his works. There are many writers who aren’t as balanced,” Vladimir Kornilov says.

There’s no legal action pending against Pirozhenko. But the incident has got other Ukrainian historians and analysts thinking they could be the next to come under scrutiny.