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28 Oct, 2008 16:25

Why is Ukraine talking about famine?

Russia’s ambassador to the UN has accused Ukraine of using the great famine of the 1930s to take people's minds off more urgent problems at home. Vitaly Churkin says leaders in Kiev are dredging up 'holodomor' to distract attention away from the country’s

Speaking in New York on Tuesday, Churkin said Kiev wanted to start a quarrel between the peoples of Ukraine and Russia.

“First of all, whatever crimes are associated with the Stalin regime, we have to remember that it was based on Marxist ideology, and this ideology divided people according to class, not nationality. So it is historically incorrect to say that Stalin's regime was only against Ukrainians.

”Secondly, to interpret it this way would be forgetting about similar tragedies that took places in several regions of Russia and other republics of the former USSR.

“And thirdly, it is quite obvious that the Ukrainian government is using this historical tragedy for political purposes to start national conflicts between the two sister nations and distract their own people from the political and economic crisis within the country,” Churkin said.

The Ukrainian famine of the 1930s, which killed up to 2.2 million people, has left a deep post-Soviet scar. The EU has recognised holodomor, regarded in Ukraine as a crime against humanity. Now Ukraine wants it recognised as genocide by the UN.