11/26/2005

Yushchenko demands truth on '30s famine - Yahoo! News

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko said on Saturday it was time to apportion blame for the man-made famine that killed millions of his compatriots under Soviet rule in the 1930s.
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Yushchenko was addressing a candlelight ceremony marking the 1932-33 famine induced by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's orders to requisition grain and break the spirit of Ukraine's "kurkuly" farmers who resisted his drive to collectivise agriculture.

The day had been chosen as the official commemoration day for the famine that was never recognised by the Soviet Union.

The president told 5,000 people in a Kiev square that up to 10 million died in the famine and pressed his case for the
United Nations to declare it a genocide. Historians' estimates put the figure at about 7.5 million.

"The famine was a crime against humanity which had perpetrators, but from the legal standpoint, no guilty parties have been found," Yushchenko said before kneeling by a monument to the victims erected in the 1990s.

"A murderer may be found responsible for killing one person, but for the destruction of millions, no one is held responsible. Perhaps this is why we in Ukraine have such difficulty today restoring the rule of law, good and social justice."

Yushchenko said the failure of the Communist system to repent for the famine "stood behind further misfortunes. Perhaps this is why we encounter such difficulty in changing our consciousness, haunted by fear and ideological slavery."

The pro-Western Yushchenko, brought to power on a wave of "Orange Revolution" rallies against election fraud, says freedom of speech is one of the chief gains of his first year in office.

He has pledged to improve the judicial system and develop post-Soviet civil society. Officials vow to pursue prominent criminal cases -- notably the murder of an investigative journalist in 2000 and the dioxin poisoning the president suffered during last year's election campaign.

Yushchenko demands truth on '30s famine - Yahoo! News

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