The ROMYR Report: Ukraine, Political Analysis Quarterly
Spring-Summer 2003, No. 1 (15), Page 17
Romyr & Associates, ROMYR Public Relations
Kyiv, Ukraine; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; New York, New York
This year is the 70th anniversary of the 1932-33 famine-genocide in Ukraine.
Ten years ago, on the 60th anniversary, public commemoration of this
greatest tragedy in the history of the people of Ukraine was limited to
condemnations expressed by President Leonid Krawchuk, a few Members of
Parliament and senior government officials. On the 65th anniversary,
President Kuchma issued a Decree designating the fourth Saturday of November
as a memorial day for honouring the "victims of the holodomor"
(famine-terror) - amended October 31, 2000 to include both "victims of the
holodomor and political repressions of 1932-33." These declarations had
little impact on many Ukrainians. The horrific events of 1932-33 either
remained deeply buried in their subconscious or were simply unknown.
Bill Clinton, President of the United States.
Famine Monument, Kyiv, Ukraine, June 5, 2000
The 70th anniversary of the famine-genocide marks a turning point. Ukraine
has spoken out clearly and officially at the Presidential, Parliamentary and
Cabinet levels. A Presidential Decree dated March 20, 2002 established an
organizing committee, chaired by the Prime Minister, and set out broad
measures for planning and recognizing the anniversary locally, nationally
and internationally. A Presidential Address to the People of Ukraine
followed November 24, 2002. On November 28, 2002 the Verkhovna Rada
passed two Resolutions. The first scheduled a parliamentary hearing for
February 12, 2003 in memory of the victims.
The second, "condemning the policy of genocide by the leaders of the Soviet
totalitarian regime against the citizens of Ukraine.," scheduled a special
memorial meeting of Parliament in May 2003 and recommended to Cabinet a
series of permanent measures for publicly commemorating the tragedy,
including holding a competition to design a memorial. The President issued a
Directive on "Further Measures in Relation to the 70th Anniversary of the
Holodomor" December 6, 2002. On February 12, 2003, the President
requested Cabinet to consider the establishment of a memorial complex, and
the same day, the Verkhovna Rada held its planned parliamentary hearing,
and confirmed its intention to hold a special meeting of parliament to
formally commemorate the event.
Three months later, on May 14, 2003, Verkhovna Rada held an historic Special
Meeting of Parliament commemorating the 70th anniversary of the
famine-genocide. Deputy Prime Minister Tabachnyk and Chairman of the
Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and
Inter-Nationality Relations Hennady Udovenko delivered compelling speeches.
The Communist faction walked out in protest at the beginning of the meeting,
declaring that they recognise the existence of the famine but do not accept
that it was purposefully organised by the Soviet Union Communist authorities
of the period.
The Special Meeting resulted in a Resolution May 15th in the form of an
Address to the People of Ukraine on Commemorating the Victims of the
1932-33 Holodomor "organized by the totalitarian regime of Stalin." On
June 3, 2003, the Ministry of Culture and the Arts, the City of Kyiv and the
State Committee for Construction and Architecture announced a competition
for a proposed commemorative monument.
Years of cover up, denial and misinformation preceded the historic May 15th
Resolution. The1932-33 famine-genocide was initially documented and exposed
to world attention by action outside Ukraine, notably, by scholarly research
associated with the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, at the
University of Alberta and Harvard University. The widely read book "Harvest
of Sorrow" by Robert Conquest, published in 1986, was particularly important
in drawing attention to the conscious policy that led to the terror and
mind-numbing numbers of lives lost. Conquest collaborated on the book with
James Mace, who had done research on the topic at Harvard University.
The book became a strong lead-in to the 1988 report of the Commission on the
Ukrainian Famine of the US Congress, for which James Mace was Staff
Director. The Commission found that "One or more of the actions specified in
the Genocide Convention was taken against the Ukrainians in order to destroy
a substantial part of the Ukrainian people and thus to neutralize them
politically in the Soviet Union." The findings of International Commissions
in Sweden and Belgium on the 1932-33 famine-genocide added to these and
other widely reported examinations and condemnations of the tragedy and made
it impossible to dismiss, ignore or keep the topic taboo in Ukraine.
In December 1987 the First Secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party,
Volodymyr Shcherbitsky publicly admitted the existence of the famine, giving
it the first official Soviet recognition of the event. As the Soviet Union
began disintegrating, a Ukrainian Communist Party resolution Feb 7, 1990
blamed Stalin as perpetrator of the famine. The following day Feb 8, 1990,
Reuters reported that the Soviet Union government in Moscow had ordered
the full details of the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33 to be published. The
turmoil following the collapse of the Soviet Union made it convenient to
ignore the matter in Moscow, a situation that continues in Russia today.
The November 24, 2002 Address to the People of Ukraine by President
Leonid Kuchma speaks of the cruel, slow deaths from starvation of whole
villages, and comes to the conclusion.
"We have to admit - it was genocide. A purposeful, meticulously planned
genocide against the Ukrainian people. And its is not a small matter that we
now can, and are obligated to remember.The communist regime could not put
up with the existence of people who were free and independent of it. Free
people, whose personal independence was based on working their own land,
had to be eliminated. Even executed by famine - no price was considered too
high. Blows were delivered methodically and purposefully. First they took
the last of what was left, then they dragged out what was hidden, they took
people into hostage, barred roads to cities. They ripped out the
grain-growing soul of Ukrainians, broke the back of the nation and
consciously provoked cannibalism."
Recognising the national cost of the 50-year taboo and denial, at the
Special Meeting of Parliament May 14, 2003, Deputy Prime Minister Dmytro
Tabachnyk noted, "We must speak out again and again about this horrific
tragedy, so that words of deep anguish not only enter the consciousness of
everyone, but also touch their hearts." The Deputy Prime Minister referred
to the more than 200 hundred thousand items on the famine in central and
regional government archives, from which 15 collections of documents, 23
collections of articles printed in magazines and more than 1000 testimonies
printed in newspapers have been published with the assistance of scholars
Together, he stated, these show that "the famine-terror was introduced as a
political mechanism for forcing the Ukrainian society of the day into
submission," and that this requires wide public awareness. He emphasised
that Ukraine faces the task of ensuring that archives in other countries
with related information, especially in Russia, but also in the US and
Western Europe, are opened to wide scholarly examination.
Speaking on the issue of international recognition of the 1932-33 terror as
an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people, the Deputy Prime Minister
was clear. He called for the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and
the National Archives, with the agreement of the government, to submit to
the bodies authorized by the UN to examine the question of genocide, all
relevant information accumulated during a decade and a half of scholarly
research, which "confirms in our view, that the holodomor in Ukraine was not
only a crime against humanity, but also falls under the Convention as an act
A translated text of the Resolution of the Special Meeting of the Verkhovna
OF THE VERKHOVNA RADA OF UKRAINE
No. 789-IV, 15th of May 2003
On the Address to the Ukrainian People from the participants of the Special
Session of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine held on May 14, 2003 to honour
the memory of victims of Holodomor (famine-terror) of 1932-1993.
We, the participants of the Special Session of the Verkhovna Rada of
Ukraine, guided by ideals of humanism and social justice, upholding human
and civil rights from the standpoint of values common to all humankind,
address the Ukrainian people - citizens of Ukraine of all nationalities, in
this year of a tragic date in our history - the 70th anniversary of the
Holodomor organized by the totalitarian Stalinist regime.
The national and international community commemorates the 70th anniversary
of this Ukrainian national catastrophe when, probably for the first time in
the history of humankind, confiscation of food was used by the state as a
weapon of mass destruction against its own people for a political aim. The
Holodomor of 1932-1933, which became an inhuman means of liquidating
millions of Ukrainians, confirms the criminal nature of the political power
of the time.
Brutal seizure of the 1932 year harvest and its shipment beyond the borders
of Ukraine, confiscation of all food products from every village family,
destruction of temples and churches, massive repressions of the Ukrainian
intelligentsia and priesthood - all this was aimed at undermining the
Ukrainian national spirit, eradicating its elite and liquidating the
economic independence of villagers.
The total extermination of millions of Ukrainian grain-growers by means of
an artificially created famine was a deliberate terrorist act of the
Stalinist political system. The social foundation of the Ukrainian nation,
its centuries-old traditions were ruined, its spiritual culture and ethnic
uniqueness were undermined.
For many decades the tragedy of Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine was
not only silenced but also officially disclaimed by the ruling elite of the
USSR. Its causes, nature, mechanism of organization and scale were carefully
concealed not only from the international community but also from several
generations of our compatriots. Yet, attempts to forever shut out the truth
about the Holodomor of 1932-1933 and drown it in the flow of time and
history failed. The West has known and written about this Ukrainian
catastrophe since 1933. In 1988 the US Congress officially recognized the
Holodomor of 1932-1933 as genocide against the Ukrainian people, as did
the International Commission of Jurists.
As to Ukrainian citizens, the truth about the events of 1932-1933 began to
unfold on the eve of the collapse of the USSR. It was then that a
breakthrough occurred in the official position of concealing these tragic
facts of history.
Today, it can be said with certainty that the first truthful words about the
Holodomor of 1932-1933 played a notable role in the national renaissance
and became one of the important factors contributing to the attainment of
With this, we believe that in an independent Ukraine the terrible truth
about those years must be made public officially by the state, because the
Holodomor of 1932-1933 was deliberately organized by the Stalinist regime
and should be publicly condemned by Ukrainian society and the international
community as one of the largest acts of genocide in world history by virtue
of the number of its victims.
We, the participants of the Special Session of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
of May 14, 2003 do so today, by recognizing the Holodomor of 1932-1933
as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian People by evil design of the
We believe that designating this catastrophe of the Ukrainian nation as a
genocide has a fundamental meaning for stabilizing social-political
relations in Ukraine, is an important factor for restoring historic justice
and moral healing of several generations from horrible social stresses, is
proof of the irreversibility of the process of democratisation of society,
and is a severe warning against attempting to establish a new dictatorship
in Ukraine or violating the most basic of human rights - the right to live.
Having considered the question of the Holodomor as an act of genocide at
the Special Session of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, we have to a degree
fulfilled our civic and patriotic duty before the memory of millions of
people and before the younger generation.
At the same time we are deeply aware of the fact, that only after making the
official political and legal assessment of this social catastrophe in the
history of Ukraine at the highest national level and on behalf of all
branches of power in Ukraine, only after fitting annual commemoration of its
countless victims, and only after bringing to the international community
the fact that this famine is a genocide against the Ukrainian people - only
after doing all this, can we call ourselves a full-fledged, civilized
In the name of the future, let us not forget the past.
Used by www.ArtUkraine.com Information Service (ARTUIS) with permission.
The ROMYR Report, Political Analysis Quarterly, Spring-Summer 2003,
No. 1 (15), Page 17; Andrew Witer, President, Romyr & Associates,
Kyiv, Ukraine; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; New York, New York
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Kyiv, Ukraine, 380 44 490 5966, email@example.com, www.romyr.com;
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