“Famine in Ukraine should not be presented as genocide”

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich claimed on Tuesday that the notorious famine during the 1930s in Ukraine was not genocide.

The country’s leader stated this during a PACE session. He said that Holodomor was “a consequence of Stalin’s totalitarian regime,” but cannot be called genocide against any particular nation, since mass famine was a tragedy for all countries in the Soviet Union.

On Wednesday PACE will review a report on the famine. The issue was brought up by Ukraine during the presidency of Viktor Yushchenko.

In 2006 Ukraine officially recognized famine as genocide. In 2010 Ukraine’s Security Department accused Joseph Stalin and other high-ranking Soviet officials of the crime. Russia is not accepting the Ukrainian version of historical events and insists that not only Ukrainians, but also people of other nationalities suffered from the starvation.

Yanukovich's statement is a positive step, says John Laughland from the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation in Paris.

“The attempt to present the Stalinist period – and particularly the famine of 1932-33 – as having been an act directed by Russians against Ukrainians is historical nonsense, and it’s dangerous nonsense,” he argued.

“Everybody knows that the Soviet regime was not led by a Russian but by a Georgian,” he continued. “And in any case, throughout the Soviet hierarchy and the membership of the Communist Party, there were people of all nationalities.”

“In the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine, people administering the policies which led to the famine and to millions of extra deaths there would have been Ukrainians as much as many other nationalities,” Laughland added.