November 17, 2008, Kyiv, Ukraine
RUSSIAN PRESIDENT DMITRY MEDVEDEV WROTE TO THE PRESIDENT
UKRAINE VIKTOR YUSHCHENKO ABOUT HOLODOMOR COMMEMORATION
Will not participate in activities
surrounding 75th commemoration of Holodomor
of Russia, Official Web Portal, Moscow, Russia, Friday, November 14,
Dear Viktor Andreyevich,
In response to your messages concerning the so-called
Holodomor as well as the steps taken by the Ukrainian leadership on the
issue, I consider it necessary to elaborate on our views of and
approaches to the issues at hand.
I would immediately note the following. We clearly see that in recent
years this topic combined with persistent attempts to receive a NATO
«membership action plan», have become a central element of Ukrainian
foreign policy. We also note the intention of the political elite and
leadership of Ukraine to use this issue as a "test for patriotism and
In your messages, you call for "removing the ideological layers from
history". Naturally, I share this approach. But at the same time I
propose that we be absolutely consistent and guided by the principle of
fair, honest and non-partisan treatment of historical heritage.
In connection with this, I am forced to point out that, in our opinion,
the tragic events of the early 1930s in Ukraine are being used to
achieve immediate short-term political goals. In this regard, the
thesis on the "centrally planned genocidal famine of Ukrainians" is
being gravely manipulated. As a result, including thanks to your
personal efforts, this interpretation has even received legislative
support. In particular, I am referring to the law passed on 28 November
2006 by the Verkhovnaya Rada [Ukrainian parliament] that you signed,
which states that "the famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine was a genocide
against the Ukrainian people".
I would also mention your initiative to criminalize the
denial of the events of the period as they are outlined in the law.
Therefore without waiting for the results of a comprehensive study of
the issue by competent experts, you imposed a single interpretation on
this history. And dissenters are threatened with prosecution – just as
they were in the totalitarian past. To put it mildly, according to this
"one-sided logic" any citizen of Ukraine that claims that in addition
to Ukrainians, Russians, Kazakhs and Belarusians died of starvation in
the same period is, in your opinion, a criminal.
It is unlikely that such steps can be explained by the desire to
restore historical justice or to honour the memory of the victims.
These efforts rather seek to divide our peoples as much as possible,
peoples united by many centuries of historical, cultural and spiritual
ties, by special feelings of friendship and mutual trust.
The most difficult pages of our common history undoubtedly need to be
fully explained. But this is only possible on the basis of objective
professional studies. However, we see that those who push through the
thesis of «Holodomor-genocide» are not in the least interested in
historical accuracy. Various manipulations and distortions are
occurring, data on the actual number of deaths are being falsified.
Representatives of the Ukrainian authorities are making public
statements that contribute to distorting the picture.
Thus in an interview in November 2007 you refer to census
data from 1929 and 1979 to argue that Ukrainians were the only nation
whose population was halved during this period, and declined from 81
million to 42 million. Yet according to the All-Union census which,
incidentally, was not held in 1929 but in 1926, the total number of
Ukrainians in the USSR, including residents of the western areas, was
about 30 million.
We are open for discussion and don't want academics to take on
political "attitudes". In our country the theme of the famine of
1932-1933 - as well as other difficult historical questions - can be
discussed freely, without fear of becoming an "enemy of the nation".
Russia has long ago destroyed the "Iron Curtain of silence" about which
The famine in the Soviet Union in 1932-1933 was not aimed at the
destruction of any one nation. It was the result of a drought, forced
collectivization and de-kulakization [campaign of political repressions
of the better-off peasants and their families] and affected the entire
country, not only Ukraine. Millions of people in the middle and lower
Volga regions, northern Caucasus, central Russia, southern Urals,
western Siberia, Kazakhstan and Belarus died.
We do not condone the repression carried out by the
Stalinist regime against the entire Soviet people. But to say that it
was aimed at the destruction of Ukrainians means going against the
facts and trying to give a nationalist subtext to a common tragedy. As
to referring to "qualitative differences" between the famine in Ukraine
and that in Russia and other regions of the USSR, it is, in our view,
merely cynical and immoral.
I would note that the decisions taken about collectivization were made
by the multinational leadership of the Soviet Union and the Soviet
republics, while the policy of enforced food requisition was carried
out in the Ukrainian Republic by predominantly Ukrainian personnel. The
latter both zealously acting on instructions from the centre as well as
often making "counterplans", including reprisals against their
brothers, Ukrainians themselves.
Historical truth demands that we adopt a responsible approach. But
attempts to resort to the "national factor" are unfair to the memory of
the victims, not to mention the questionable legal basis of such claims.
With regard to steps taken by the Ukrainian side in international
organizations to "ascertain the nature and ensure the condemnation of
such crimes" I would note that the UN and UNESCO have already expressed
themselves on this subject. The 2007 UNESCO General Conference paid
tribute to the millions of deaths from starvation in the 1930s
regardless of the victims' nationality and refused to recognize this
tragedy as a "genocide of the Ukrainian people".
And at the 58th UN General Assembly most of the CIS member
states including Russia, Ukraine and many other nations issued a joint
statement in which they expressed their deepest sympathy to millions of
Russians, Ukrainians, Kazakhs and representatives of other nations,
victims of starvation in USSR.
The statement refers to the events of the 1930s as a
"tragedy". I believe that further discussion of this topic in
international organisations would not be beneficial and will not
produce any results.
Therefore, as I have already said, we should focus on correcting a
dangerous disparity which has arisen, whereby the slogan "condemnation
of the genocide of Ukrainians" belittles the tragedy of other affected
peoples of the former Soviet Union. I propose to begin work on a joint
approach to these events. In doing so, it would be useful to involve
experts from Kazakhstan, Belarus and other interested CIS countries.
Meanwhile, in the light of the above, I do not consider it possible to
participate in the activities surrounding the 75th anniversary of the
"Holodomor" in Ukraine.
For my part I would like to confirm my sincere desire to build a
positive atmosphere of cooperation in the cultural and educational
spheres, and to substantiate this cooperation with concrete actions
that are understandable to our citizens and benefit the traditionally
friendly relations between our countries and peoples.
Sincerely, Dmitry Medvedev.
"WRETCHED VICTIMS OF HOLODOMOR WHOSE MEMORY IS BEING BURIED IN THE
OF SOME AND THE POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY OF OTHERS", RUSSIAN RADIO
Ganapolskiy, Political Commentator, Ekho Moskvy
radio, Moscow, Russia, in Russian, Friday, 14 Nov 08
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, In English, Friday, November 14,
In his commentary on the Russian president's decision not to attend the
events in Kiev dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the famine of
1932-1933, Matvey Ganapolskiy, political commentator of the Ekho Moskvy
radio station, said:
"Yushchenko and Medvedev are worth each other. The first wants the
victims of bloody maniac Stalin to be exclusively Ukrainians. In other
words, he does not care a damn about the fact that everyone was dying
from famine and that the very essence of the famine mechanism was not
to eliminate someone but to eliminate all for the sake of the bright
idea of world communism.
This has been proven a thousand times, but we know that any
president for the benefit of his own country would not even stop at
deceiving his own people. And since the benefit in question is
immediate accession to NATO, the fairy-tale about exclusive Ukrainians
still goes on.
"But Yushchenko has a spitting image. His name is Dmitriy Medvedev. He
does not want to stand next to nationalist Yushchenko, so he writes a
letter to him in which he explains how everything should be interpreted
and understood. He does not go to the remembrance ceremony but teaches
how the event should be remembered. It is reminiscent of his speech on
the eve of Obama's victory. The latter had not yet won the election but
Moscow had already issued instructions.
"Anyway, Medvedev could have attended the ceremony in Kiev and the two
countries may have reconciled. But the Putin-Medvedev duet is hiding in
the bushes, waiting for these devil incarnates - Yushchenko and
[Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili - to disappear. And now they
will be waiting not for eight but 12 years.
"As we can see everyone plays their own game. And in this game
everything is important, except the main thing, the wretched victims of
Holodomor, whose memory is being buried in the lies of some and the
political expediency of others."
RUSSIAN PRESIDENT DMITRY MEDVEDEV CONDEMNS UKRAINE
Moscow, Russia, Friday, November 14, 2008
MOSCOW - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev accused Ukraine’s
pro-Western leader yesterday of distorting history for political gain
by commemorating a famine engineered by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
The dispute over next week’s anniversary of the 1932-33 famine is part
of a long series of rows between the ex-Soviet neighbours over Kiev’s
shift towards the West which includes seeking membership of NATO and
the European Union. Historians say about 7.5 million people
died in the famine, intended to break the spirit of Ukraine’s
Ukrainian authorities, led by President Viktor Yushchenko, have sought
to have the famine declared internationally a “genocide”. Russia
denounces such an interpretation, saying the events at that time hit
many ethnic groups in the Soviet Union.
“We clearly see that this theme, along with persistent attempts to
secure an invitation to NATO’s ‘prep classes’ has in recent years all
but become the main element of Ukrainian foreign policy,” Medvedev told
the Ukrainian leader in a letter.
“Such steps can hardly be explained by a bid to restore historical
justice or to honour the victims’ memory. They are more likely aimed at
dividing our peoples as much as possible.”
Medvedev said the famine was “the consequence of drought and forced
collectivisation...To suggest that the main aim was to destroy
Ukrainians is to fly in the face of the facts and paint a general
tragedy in nationalist tones.”
Russia has repeatedly been at odds with the pro-Western
leaders swept to power by the 2004 “Orange Revolution” mass protests
against election fraud.
Moscow is highly critical of moves by Ukraine and pro-Western Georgia
to join NATO and said on Friday it would pull out of the Conventional
Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty if the two ex-Soviet states were placed
on the path to membership.
The Kremlin was deeply angered by Yushchenko’s support for Georgia in
the brief war pitting it against Russia in August. The foreign ministry
in Moscow this week denounced a decision by Ukraine to halt the
screening of a Russian film on the conflict.
Border demarcation disputes further divide the neighbours as does
Ukraine’s intention to end in 2017 the presence of Russia’s Black Sea
Fleet in the Crimea peninsula. Several days of commemorations next week
include a conference to be attended by regional leaders, the unveiling
of a monument and a solemn procession to honour victims.
The famine, one of three to strike Ukraine last century, is
particularly sensitive as it touched many regions in a country usually
divided into a nationalist west and Russian-speaking east. Soviet
authorities denied for years that it had occurred.
It was created by authorities setting impossibly high harvest quotas
and requisitioning crops and livestock. Farmers were left to die in
their own homes.
At its height, 25,000 people perished every day. Soldiers dumped bodies
into pits and cannibalism became rife.
UKRAINIAN COMMUNIST HRACH SUPPORTS RUSSIAN PRESIDENT'S
TO PARTICIPATE IN "SABBATH" OF MEMORY OF HOLODOMOR 1932-1933
Ukraine News, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, November 14, 2008
KYIV - The leader of the Crimean Communists,
radical and deputy of the Ukrainian Parliament Leonid Hrach supported
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's position who officially refused
today from an invitation from Kyiv to participate in the
events to perpetuate the memory of the Holodomor victims of 1932-33.
Hrach had repeatedly accused President Viktor Yushchenko of
“falsification of historical facts of the Soviet period” and in a
“cynically-refined Russophobian policy”.
The Parliamentary deputy from the CPU faction called memorial events on
the Holodomor in Ukraine as a “Sabbath”. “Medvedev's refusal is a
signal to the Ukrainian society so that it looked attentively at its
leaders, who lead it apparently not to right side, lead it to
confrontation with Russia actually in all the spheres, turning it into
a state ideology”, Hrach said.
As UKRINFORM earlier reported, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated
in an address to President Viktor Yushchenko that the famine in Ukraine
in the early 1930ies has been used for reaching short-term political
aims. According to the Russian President, the Holodomor,
alongside with the course towards NATO, is a part of Ukraine's foreign
Dmitry Medvedev once again confirmed the Russian position that rejects
availability of genocide during the famine of 1932-1933.
Large-scale memorable events will take place in Ukraine on November
18-22, dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor 1932-1933,
recognized by about 15 countries as genocide, participation of thirty
foreign delegations is expected, including at the highest level.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (of the Moscow Patriarchy) recognized the
Holodomor of 1932-33 as act of genocide at the Holy Synod over these
NEW YORK CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION: WHY WAS STALIN BANNER REMOVED
By Marcus Franklin,
Associated Press (AP), New York, NY, Friday,
November 14, 2008
NEW YORK - The New York Civil Liberties Union has
demanded that city officials explain why they ordered a private art
school to remove a banner displaying an image of Josef Stalin.
In a letter Thursday to the Department of Buildings, NYCLU executive
director Donna Lieberman expressed concern that the banner was taken
down from The Cooper Union after some residents of the local Ukrainian
community complained that it "seemed to promote" the Soviet dictator on
the 75th anniversary of a famine he imposed. The famine, called the
Holodomor, killed millions of Ukrainians.
The banner was part of an art exhibit, "Stalin by Picasso, or Portrait
of Woman with Mustache." Lene Berg, the artist who created the banner,
said it was intended to provoke discussion about the relationship
between art and politics.
The 52-foot-by-36-foot banner features a reproduction of a 1953 Pablo
Picasso portrait of Stalin. At the time, the image was viewed as a
critique of the Soviet leader.
But the Ukrainian community found it offensive, said Tamara Olexy,
president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America. "It's like
hanging a portrait of Hitler in a synagogue or in a Jewish community,"
After receiving several complaints, the Department of Buildings
investigated the banner's legality and determined it violated
construction and zoning regulations, the agency said Friday.
"We determined the sign was too high, too large, lacked a permit and
blocked the building's windows," buildings spokeswoman Kate Lindquist
wrote in an e-mail. "The department does not regulate sign content."
But Lieberman said the NYCLU's understanding was that the complaints
were about the banner's content, not its size. "The question remains as
to whether the building code was enforced because of objections to the
content. If so, that raises questions about censorship," Lieberman said
in a statement.
In a Nov. 13 letter to buildings department community affairs director
Donald Ranshte, Lieberman said the banner's removal would raise First
Amendment concerns if regulations had been selectively enforced based
on complaints about its content.
Buildings officials told the school Oct. 31 to remove the banner
because it didn't have a permit, Cooper Union spokeswoman Jolene Travis
said Friday. The school immediately took down the banner, which had
been put up on Oct. 26.
Cooper Union initially planned to apply for a permit to display the
banner again, but not until after Nov. 15, when the Ukrainian community
in the nearby East Village plans to hold events commemorating the
famine, Travis said. But the school abandoned the effort after being
told by buildings officials that banners can't block windows because of
The banner controversy comes less than six months after a Roman
Catholic watchdog group protested a Cooper Union student art exhibition
that included what the group considered vulgar depictions of religious
symbols such as a crucifix and a rosary.
Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Director
Government Affairs, Washington Office
SigmaBleyzer Private Equity Investment Group
President/CEO, U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC)
Publisher & Editor, Action Ukraine Report (AUR)
Trustee: "Holodomor: Through The Eyes of Ukrainian Artists"
1701 K Street, NW, Suite 703, Washington, D.C. 20006