More on the Holodomor at the United Nations

06.12.2010, 13:20
For the last few years, before Viktor Yanukovych became president of Ukraine, the Holodomor had become a vibrant, albeit sometimes controversial subject at the United Nations in New York.
For the last few years, before Viktor Yanukovych became president of Ukraine, the Holodomor had become a vibrant, albeit sometimes controversial subject at the United Nations in New York.

Ukraine’s Permanent Mission at the UN with such Ukrainian community organizations as the Ukrainian World Congress, the World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations, the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America over the years have conducted commemorative programs, issued statements, initiated the collection of signatures on Statements of member-states, all regarding the 1932-1933 famine which was orchestrated by
Soviet authorities under dictator Josef Stalin.

The Russian Federation has never been accused of this crime, yet Russia has protested, undermined, threatened. Russian reaction could be construed as some sense of guilt, but certainly not remorse.

The thrust of these activities has been to educate the international community about the Holodomor, in particular, to advance the thesis that the Holodomor was a Ukrainian genocide and to honor the memory of its victims.

Throughout the proceedings, the Russian Federation has never been accused of this crime, yet Russia has protested, undermined, threatened. Russian reaction could be construed as some sense of guilt, but certainly not remorse.

Russia chose to fight the Holodomor by challenging its characterization as a Ukrainian genocide and undermining the suggested number of victims. Predicated on Soviet censuses and estimations from such varied sources as Josef Stalin and Robert Conquest, the number proffered has been 7-10 million.

The Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies based in Edmonton, Canada recently issued a press release about a lecture delivered at the University of Toronto by a Ukrainian demographer on the subject of the Holodomor. The demographer prefaced his conclusions with a statement about the need for an exact calculation of the number of victims of the Holodomor, arguing that excessive estimations undermine the credibility of the evidence supporting the tragedy.

As an example, he suggested the difficulty experienced by the Ukrainian World Congress at the UN when it suggested a 7-10 million number. He then went on to estimate that some 4 million perished in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The support for his conclusion was the Soviet censuses in 1926 and 1939.


Why is a demographer, insisting on accuracy, not taking into account Ukrainians who died in the Kuban region or those Ukrainians who perished in the Russian SSR while in transit to Siberia or in gulags and camps?


My initial problem with this exercise is the question of why it is necessary to conclude an exact number. After all, the generally accepted number of victims during the Holocaust was arrived at 6 million and, frankly, has not been debated very much. Whether the number of Ukrainian victims in the Holodomor was 4 million in the Ukrainian SSR or 7-10 million Ukrainians throughout the USSR does not detract from the fact that it was a Ukrainian genocide.
Furthermore, why is a demographer, insisting on accuracy, not taking into account Ukrainians who died in the Kuban region or those Ukrainians who perished in the Russian SSR while in transit to Siberia or in gulags and camps? Why does he not consider the nationalities breakdown provided in the Stalin purged but recently exhumed census of 1937 which shows that the Ukrainian population in the USSR actually decreased by 5 million from 1926-1937 without even considering a customary growth rate? The only other population in the USSR which actually declined during that period of time was the Kazakhs. However, some 1.5 million Kazakhs fled Kazakhstan for China. Ukrainians could not flee because by decree of January 22, 1933 Stalin shut the borders of the Ukrainian SSR and Kuban, heavily populated by Ukrainians. No other region of the USSR was affected. What about the growth rate of the other nationalities in the USSR with Russians at a dominant 23 percent?

On the positive side, Ukraine’s Permanent Mission to the UN held its annual Holodomor commemoration on Dec. 3 at the UN in New York.I had written about this in the beginning of November, concerned that no preparations for a commemorative event this year were known to me or to Ukrainian community organization. Cynically, I concluded that hope springs eternal. Well hope became reality.

Ukraine’s Ambassador to the UN Yuriy Sergeev convened a meeting, put together an evocative program with speeches, singing and bells. At the event he skirted around the term genocide, in deference to his oppressive superiors Yanukovych and Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko, but did say: “In the thirties of the last century the world was not able to stop the criminal Stalin regime, which was cynically and heartlessly destroying its political opposition and the insubordinate but peaceful peoples with the most brutal weapon – hunger. The people of Ukraine were being exterminated most severely: 25,000 per day. As a result of the Holodomor, from 20 to 25 percent of the population of Soviet Ukraine was wiped out in 18 months, one third of them – children. Only decades later, when the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court were adopted, such a mass murder was defined as a crime against humanity.”

I am glad I was wrong.

Askold LOZYNSKYJ

6 December 2010 KyivPost