Monday, November 30, 2009

Ukraine leader calls '30s famine Soviet genocide

Standing before a monument dedicated to the millions who perished from the Great Famine of the 1930s, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko marked the famine's anniversary with a fresh appeal for the world to recognize the tragedy as an act of genocide by then-Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

The ongoing effort by Mr. Yushchenko to revive a history long suppressed by the Soviet Union, and still dismissed by many in Russia, could well define his presidency.

"We did almost the impossible," the leader told a large crowd on Saturday gathered near the memorial on an overcast day. "We saved and returned to the people the truth about the Great Famine of 1932-33. We returned it from the abyss, from the precipice, from that which fails to return."

Ukraine's Soviet-era archives, opened to the public by Mr. Yushchenko, has allowed historians to take a fresh look at the Holodomor, or death by hunger. It refers to the famine that killed between 3 million and 7 million Ukrainians, mostly from the country's central and eastern regions, in 1932 to '33. Some estimates of the toll run as high as 10 million.

Mr. Yushchenko and scholars say Stalin ordered the famine as a way of breaking the Ukrainian people and its leadership. Both had serious disagreements with the Soviet leader over his collectivization policies and were unwilling to meet quotas that he had set for the agriculturally rich Ukraine.

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Source: Washington Post

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