This has not prevented crude anti-Russian propagandists in the West like the journalist James Marson from taking a partisan position in The Guardian,
The current Ukrainian president, Viktor Yushchenko, has invested much effort in rethinking Soviet interpretations of the nation's history. It is unfortunate that his political failures have limited the impact of these attempts, which have been largely well received. When a large new memorial was opened last year, thousands of Ukrainians from across the country flocked to see it.Marson then goes on to claim,
Modern Russia, on the other hand, has not made any attempt to come to terms with the famine, as with many other aspects of Stalin's legacy.Russian politicians and talking heads argue that it was not genocide, as millions died across the Soviet Union, ignoring the evidence that the famine was purposefully intensified in Ukraine.
Russia does not commemorate those deaths. Russian president Dmitry Medvedev refused Yushchenko's invitation to the 75th anniversary ceremony in Kiev last year with a coarse dismissal of "the so-called Holodomor".In actual fact, there was nothing in Medvedev's response that was 'coarse'. What he actually wrote paid tribute to the scale of the suffering but rejected, quite sensibly, the attempt to stoke up Ukrainian nationism by pretending it was imposed by 'Russia' on Ukraine.
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 loyalty'.
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.
Medvedev does not 'ignore' the 'genocide claim' but disputes it and the attempt to impose a one sided nationalist interpretation which is gathering momentum in Ukraine by post-communist politicians whose dogmatism reflects their inheritance from being Communist apparatchniks.
Marson is stating that anybody that dissents from the idea that the famine was imposed to kill of Ukrainians who wanted freedom is tacitly complicit with genocide and that just reflects the continuity between Stalin and Putin.
Medvedev's response was actually rather dignified ( unlike Marsons vulgar propaganda which, despite its forthright pro-NATO slant was written in the style of the best tradition of Marxism-Leninism with its sensationalism and utter lack of actual historical knowledge ).
Marson's claim that 'Russia does not commemorate those deaths' does not mean it does recognise these deaths, though it uses the slightly weaselly word 'tragedy', though Medvedev takes it from the statements issued by UN organisations.
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.( my italics )
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 Ukrainian Terror Famine was not "genocide" because it was not the attempt by one racial elite to exterminate another but was carried out as part of the ideological commitment to agricultural collectivisation and to destroy richer peasants ( the 'kulaks' ).
Ukraine's national development and fertile chernozems, making Ukraine 'the breadbasket of the Soviet Union', meant that large numbers of richer peasants did not want collectivisation and so the terror famine was implemented to crush any resistance to Soviet power.
The catastrophic result can be better described as democide, which in no way detracts from the enormity of the Soviet Unions artificially induced famine. The word 'genocide' appeals only to those who want to use history as propaganda to back the agenda of Ukrainian nationalists.
That Marson has backed Ukrainian nationalist claims is foolish as he has failed to notice that the Terror Famine was implemented by Communists, many of whom like Krushchev were Ukrainian when they were not Georgian, as was Stalin and his henchmen.
Solszhenitsyn was not entirely wrong to describe the interpretation of the Holomodor as a genocide 'a loopy fable' if it is portrayed as a Russian genocide which, of course, it was not. It was not intended to exterminate a race but had the advantage of killing off the focus for nationalist resistance.
That still does not in any sense rationalise the mass murder of millions of peasants as 'the class enemy' but neither should the Terror Famine be used to back Ukrainian ethnic nationalism in a way that could ramp up ethnic tensions in Ukraine just as accusations of genocide did in Yugoslavia.
But propaganists for immediate NATO expansion into the Ukraine in the USA and Canada want people to conflate Russia and the Soviets because a considerable number in the North American diaspora are far right nationalists who see NATO expansion as part of a grudge match against Russia.
With diminishing influence Yushchenko, who derived most of his miniscule support from the West of Ukraine around places like L'viv, is clearly playing the nationalist card in a manner reminiscent of Mikheil Saakashvili in order to shore up a crumbling support base. The irony is that this part of Ukraine actually was untouched by the famine ( it was part of Poland in the 30s).
Those like Marson, who take their propaganda screed directly from the templates laid down by the viscerally Russophobic Zbigniew Brzezinski, are prepared to disregard these realities are have not learnt enough about history of Ukraine. The very people who push the genocide theory often have demons of their own.
The right wing Ukranian nationalists have a dark history of terror and ethnic cleansing as the activities of UPA showed during The Second World War when they killed 200,000 Poles in what had been until 1939 termed 'Eastern Poland', often using atrocious means including sawing people in half.
UPA was also rabidly anti-semitic, dispatching Jews to their deaths as both Jews and Poles were seen as much as the Russians as the national enemy who should be driven out and killed. A tradition dating back to the Khmelnytsky Uprising of 1648 which was common knowledge and mentioned in literature like Isaac Bashevis Singer's The Slave.
Clearly Marson has consigned all of that to the Orwellian memory hole because it does not fit in with the relentless and needless demonisation of Russia, something which only stimulates Russian nationalism in response and is divisive given the close ethnic Russian links between Eastern Ukraine and the Crimea and Russia.