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Ukraine marks anniversary of great famine

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    Ukraine marks anniversary of great famine The Associated Press November 22, 2008 http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/11/22/europe/EU-Ukraine-Great- Famine.php
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2008
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      Ukraine marks anniversary of great famine
      The Associated Press
      November 22, 2008
      http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/11/22/europe/EU-Ukraine-Great-
      Famine.php


      KIEV, Ukraine: Church bells tolled, candles flickered under falling
      snow and national flags, adorned with black ribbons, flew in the
      Ukrainian capital Kiev Saturday as the country marked the anniversary
      of the start of a Soviet-era famine that killed millions.

      But the solemn events were overshadowed by fierce opposition from
      Russia. The Kremlin is resisting Ukraine's campaign to win
      international recognition of the 1932-33 tragedy as an act of
      genocide against the Ukrainian nation, saying other ethnic groups
      also suffered.

      The anniversary of Holodomor — or Death by Hunger as it is known
      here — is traditionally marked in late November, when the food
      shortages began.

      The famine was orchestrated by dictator Josef Stalin to force
      peasants to give up their land and join collective farms and Ukraine,
      known as the breadbasket of the Soviet Union, suffered the most.
      The death toll is disputed, but there is no question the tragedy was
      devastating. Top Ukrainian historian Stanislav Kulchitsky believes
      3.5 million perished, while President Viktor Yushchenko says that
      Holodomor claimed the lives of up to 10 million.

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      Yushchenko insists that the famine was aimed at rooting out Ukrainian
      nationalism, targeting the heart of the nation, its peasants, and
      thus is an act of genocide.

      "This was not death through hunger — this was murder of people
      through hunger," a black-clad Yushchenko said in a speech. "Hunger
      was selected as a tool to subdue the Ukrainian people."

      In the fall of 1932 authorities confiscated grain, livestock and
      other food in villages across the Soviet Union, after peasants failed
      to meet grain quotas that exceeded crop yields. The Soviet Union
      exported the grain to build factories and arm its military.

      Residents were prohibited to leave their homes — effectively
      condemning them to starvation and survivors say that people ate dogs,
      grass and that cases of cannibalism were widespread. The famine was a
      closely guarded secret in the Soviet times.

      Several hundred Ukrainians braved snow and cold to light candles
      outside the golden-domed St. Michael cathedral in Kiev in memory of
      those who perished.

      "It is the pain and wound of the Ukrainian people," said a sobbing
      Valentyna Mayboroda, a 57-year-old retired government worker whose
      uncle Ivan disappeared and was believed to have fallen victim to
      cannibals.

      Scholars in Ukraine, Russia and the West are still debating the
      tragedy. Most Ukrainian scholars, including Kulchitsky, are convinced
      Holodomor was an act of genocide, or deliberate and systematic
      destruction of a racial or ethnic group, as it is defined in
      international law. Others, like Heorhiy Kasyanov, a top historian
      with the National Academy of Sciences, say the issue is more
      complicated and says there was no clear-cut ethnic component.

      But few debate that Russians are unwilling to properly honor the
      victims of Soviet-era purges, reconsider the dark pages of the
      country's history and acknowledge that the Soviet regime was guilty
      of grave crimes. Critics say that reluctance to face Soviet crimes is
      rooted in the fact that the Kremlin is increasingly moving away from
      democracy and reverting to authoritarian practices.

      Ukrainian lawmakers, along with their counterparts including the
      United States, already labeled Holodomor an act of genocide and
      Yushchenko is pushing for other countries and international bodies to
      follow suit.

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