PACE refuses to label Soviet-era Great Famine genocide against Ukrainians

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has refused to recognize the Great Famine that struck the Soviet Union in the 1930s as genocide of the Ukrainian people.

Following debate that lasted for two hours, 21 PACE members voted for recognizing Holodomor (the word used by Ukrainians to label the famine) as a genocide of Ukrainians. Fifty-five voted against the corresponding amendment to the draft resolution on the issue, Interfax news agency reported.

The assembly pointed that the Great Famine took millions of lives in the former Soviet republics of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine.

It stressed that while the Great Famine may have had particularities in different regions of the Soviet Union, “the results were the same everywhere: millions of human lives were sacrificed to the fulfillment of the policies of the Stalinist regime.”

The assembly called on the countries of Europe not to politicize the Stalin-era famine and urged the historians of the countries affected by the tragedy to carry out joint research to investigate the true circumstances of the Great Famine.

PACE urged the former Soviet republics to ease access to archives about Holodomor in order to provide a more objective picture of events.

The assembly strongly condemned “the cruel policies pursued by the Stalinist regime” which “triggered” the famine and resolutely rejected "any attempts to justify these deadly policies, by whatever purposes.”

PACE’s decision comes just a day after the Ukrainian president said that Holodomor cannot be called genocide against any particular nation, since mass famine was a tragedy for all countries in the Soviet Union.

His announcement marked a U-turn in Kiev's position on the issue, as the previous administration had actively tried to label the famine as Moscow's genocide of Ukrainians.

However, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Victor Yanukovich’s words should not be taken as sensation.

“From the horrible famine of the 1930s, connected to decisions the Soviet leadership took, suffered Russians, Ukrainians, Kazakhs, Belarusians and many other nations that lived on the territory of the Soviet Union,” Lavrov said. “This is just an objective historical fact.”

“And the fact that the Ukrainian president confirmed it should not be taken as sensation,” he declared. “It may be considered a sensation only in regard to the anomalous stance of the previous Ukrainian leader.”

“I think that it is just a restoration of an absolutely normal, objective approach to history,” Lavrov concluded.