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25 May, 2009 17:04

Who is the culprit? Ukraine starts Holodomor criminal case

Ukraine’s Security Service has launched a criminal case in connection with Holodomor, a Soviet era famine that killed millions.

Valentin Nalivaichenko, head of the country’s Security Service, said that the evidence so far collected is enough to press criminal charges in connection with “hunger, artificially generated by Bolsheviks, that killed the civil population en masse.”

The service has also appealed to Ukrainians, calling on the population to help in gathering information about the famine.

In 2006, Ukraine's parliament labeled Holodomor an act of genocide by Soviet authorities and the recent Security Service statement has once again specified that it was genocide directed against Ukrainians.

"These illegal activities were aimed at starving to death the Ukrainians as a national group," according to the announcement, citing eyewitness reports and scientific research.

“From the legal point of view, what the Security Service is doing is absurd.<…> If a person was eighteen years old in 1933, then how old are they now when criminal proceedings are beginning? As a rule, at that time the people in power were 40- 50 years old and older and they are already dead. There are people who survived the famine at the age of 8 or 9. Not older.”

Ukraine parliament member Gennady Moskal

Russia, however, has consistently denied Ukraine’s interpretations of events, maintaining that the 1932-1933 famine affected not only Ukraine, but also the North Caucuses, the Volga region, a major part of central Russia, Kazakhstan, West Siberia and South Urals.

Russia says that the disastrous famine, which developed as a result of forced collectivization, claimed the lives of millions of people from different ethnic groups living in the USSR.

Meanwhile, some of the Ukraine’s nationalist political parties say that Russia, as a successor to the Soviet Union, should take responsibility for the famine.

Last year, however, the country’s president, Viktor Yushchenko, announced that Ukraine did "not blame any nation or state for the great famine," adding that the "totalitarian Communist regime" was the only one to blame for the catastrophe.