With every passing year the
truth about the Ukrainian Holodomor of 1932-1933 is spreading among the
Ukrainian and world communities. Today there can be no doubt that Stalin's
totalitarian communist regime committed a brutal crime against the Ukrainian nation
as a result of which millions of the Ukrainian peasants were starved to death
in an artificially induced famine.
The study of the Holodomor
phenomenon is gradually bringing to light an ever increasing range of issues
related to its underlying reasons, the motives, surrounding circumstances,
machinery of implementation, and consequences. Accordingly, the informational
gaps and controversies regarding this terrible tragedy are decreasing in
number. At the same time, however, the debate as to whether the Holodomor can
be qualified as genocide continues and even seems to be intensifying.
Verkhovna Rada's adoption of the Law "On the Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine,"
there are still some researchers, political scientists and politicians - both
in Ukraine and abroad - who, while acknowledging the criminal nature of the Holodomor,
do not consider it to have been a crime of genocide. In essence they argue that
Ukrainian peasants were not the only ones who died en masse on the boundless
expanses of the Land of the Soviets, so it makes little sense to single out the
genocidal nature of the Holodomor.
This type of reasoning
ignores the national dimension of the Ukrainian Holodomor that has been now
been firmly proven by the well documented studies of such authoritative
researchers like Robert Conquest, James Mace and Andrea Graziosi.
Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity
Even if one were to
consider the Ukrainian peasantry's victimization by man-made famine outside of
the national context, such mass murder nonetheless comprises a grave
international crime or crime against humanity.
With this in mind, it
should be noted that for a legal assessment and condemnation of the killing of
peasants by famine, one need not invent new terms like "democide,"
"sociocide or "classocide." Rather, one need only apply
international law, which, in addition to genocide, includes the category
"crimes against humanity," among which "extermination" is
specifically mentioned. Under international law, extermination means the deliberate
mass or systematic killing of a large number of the civilian population, and
includes the deprivation of access to food and medicine.
Genocide and extermination
are considered to be the gravest of international crimes according to the
generally recognized rules of international customary law as confirmed by
international treaties and, in particular, by the 1948 UN Convention on the
Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and by the 1998 Rome Statute
of the International Criminal Court.
Article 6 of the Rome
Statute sets forth the corpus delicti of genocide as defined in the 1948 UN
Convention, while article 7 lists other international crimes under the general
heading "Crimes against Humanity," which include such crimes as
extermination (par. 1 (b)).
Hence, genocide is not the
only international crime or crime against humanity, but just one of them. However,
this particular crime differs from the others in character, legal implications,
and consequences and is therefore considered to be the "crime of
crimes" in the theory of international law.
The specific socio-legal
character of the crime of genocide lies in the intent to destroy national,
ethnical, racial or religious groups as such, that is, those groups that
comprise the most important basic civilizational elements in the structure of
humankind. The destruction of such elements, being contrary to the universal
principle of diversity, threatens not only individuals and communities but the
very existence of humankind.
What genocide and the other
crimes against humanity have in common is the large-scale or systematic
violation of natural human rights and fundamental freedoms for which states,
public officials and private individuals may be held responsible pursuant to
the rules of national and international law.
Surely any unbiased person
with a modicum of conscience and human compassion would not question the
assessment of the intentional elimination of millions of Ukrainian peasants in
1932-1933 as a crime against humanity under the heading "extermination."
The mass murder of Ukrainians was therefore a grave international crime
regardless of whether it constituted genocide or extermination.
However, an elementary
sense of justice and human solidarity demands honoring the memory of Holodomor
victims and a proper legal assessment of our national tragedy within the
context of the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime
Distinctive Features of Genocide
Some researchers of the
Holodomor often criticize the legal definition of genocide for its
imperfection, and the 1948 Convention for its drawbacks (V. Marochko, Y.
Zakharov). Moreover, some of them conclude that only the Holocaust meets the
Convention's legal criteria and that such criteria still "do not provide a
100 percent guarantee that all cases of mass destruction of people will be identified
as genocide" (S. Kulchytsky). Such assessments of the 1948 Convention are
erroneous from at least two perspectives.
First, the legal criteria
of the Convention were not designed to qualify all cases of the mass
destruction of people as genocide. Pursuant to article II of the Convention,
the term genocide means certain criminal acts committed against any national,
ethnical, racial or religious group as such, and not simply cases of mass
destruction of people. As mentioned earlier, the mass destruction of people is
the separate international crime of extermination.
Secondly, while the
criteria of the 1948 Convention were formulated under the impact of the tragic
events of World War II, they remain the rules of general international law. Thus,
this document and only this document may be used to determine whether certain
criminal acts meet the legal definition of genocide.
The Convention on the
Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide reflects the historical
context in which it was elaborated. Whether or not one likes the final version
of the Convention signed on 9 December 1948, it remains an authentic and
legally valid instrument of international law. No state or the international
community as a whole has challenged the authority of the 1948 Convention, as
was convincingly confirmed fifty years later when article II, which defines the
corpus delicti of genocide, was repeated word for word in article 6 of the Rome
Statute of the International Criminal Court.
In light of the above, any
attempt to interpret the provisions of the 1948 Convention in order to
"improve" it or adapt it to the specifics of "Soviet
genocide" would be counterproductive. The researchers who take such an
approach present theses, which, from a legal point of view and contrary to
their good intentions, provide grounds for denying the genocidal nature of the
On the other hand, attempts
by researchers, politicians and political scientists of certain countries to
deny the genocidal nature of the Holodomor by consciously distorting the
provisions of the 1948 Convention are inadmissible.
In accordance with the
principles of the law of international treaties, the 1948 Convention should be
accepted just as it is and applied to qualify criminal acts as genocide in
strict conformity to the corpus delicti set forth exclusively by the
Convention, and not to arbitrarily selected criteria for the sake of
The essence of the crime of
genocide is defined in the introductory part of article II of the 1948
Convention as "...acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in
part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such." It is
well recognized in the theory of international law and confirmed by practice
that for a criminal act to constitute genocide, one must prove that the
perpetrator had a special intent (dolus specialist to destroy a group specified
in the Convention, and that the criminal behavior was committed against the
defined group as such.
Actions that lack both of
the aforementioned essential elements do not constitute an act of genocide even
if they resulted in a group's extermination. Genocide differs from other crimes
against humanity, first, in the nature of the intent, rather than the number of
victims. Secondly, it is committed, not against people in general, but against
a clearly defined group. Thirdly, genocide is not directed just against
individual members of the group but primarily against the group as such.
In other words, a
distinctive feature of genocide is that members of the groups defined in the
1948 Convention - national, ethnical, racial or religious - are exterminated,
in whole or in part, because of their very affiliation to a respective group.
A decisive factor in
qualifying certain behavior as the crime of genocide is the proof of a special
intent to destroy a particular national, ethnical, racial or religious group
and demonstrating that this intent specifically related to that group, rather
than asking why, when and where was the crime committed or concentrating on the
so-called quantitative threshold, that is, the number of victims.
It should be stressed,
however, that the answers to these questions are nonetheless very important for
proving a special intent and other essential elements of the crime and, in
particular, the targeting of the specific groups referred to in the 1948
Convention. In this regard, one must acknowledge the contribution of Ukrainian
historians, such as S. Kulchytsky, V. Marochko, Yu. Mytsyk, R. Pyrih, V.
Serhiychuk, Yu. Shapoval, Ye. Shatalina, V. Vasilyev and the many others whose
numerous findings laid a reliable factual foundation for qualifying the
Ukrainian Holodomor of 1932-33 as a crime of genocide. The selfless work of J.
Mace and V. Manyak also deserve mention.
Proof of Intent to Organize
To prove the genocidal
nature of the Holodomor, it is first of all necessary to demonstrate that
Stalin's totalitarian communist regime intended to organize the man-made famine
in Ukraine. Those who deny that the Holodomor was an act of genocide ask whether
this intent was documented and whether there existed a premeditated plan as
evidence of this intent. Answering this question, the Russian historian V.
Kondrashin states: "Researchers have failed to find a single document of
the Soviet government or Central Committee of the Party that gave instructions
to starve a specific number of peasants, Ukrainian or otherwise."
Given the above, it should
be emphasized that the 1948 Convention does not require a document to be
produced as evidence of the existence of a criminal plan or the intent to
commit a crime: it only requires that such intent be proven.
Moreover, it is highly
unlikely that a document containing a plan for the destruction by starvation of
the Ukrainian peasantry will ever be found. Given the proclivity to secrecy
instilled in the minds of Bolshevik leaders and their desire to cover up a
horrifically criminal and inhuman act, the existence of such a document is problematic
in principle. Even in Nazi Germany with its officially approved racist policy,
the genocide committed against the Jews was implemented under the guise of a
"final solution to the Jewish question."
Today those who deny that the
Ukrainian Holodomor was an act of genocide agree that the famine in Ukraine and
elsewhere in the USSR was precipitated by the arbitrary confiscation of grain and
other produce grown by the peasants, in compliance with the government's
excessive grain procurement plans as ordered by higher party organs. The
implementation of such plans doomed the inhabitants of rural areas to an
inevitable death by starvation. Hence, planning the confiscation of excessive
quantities of farm produce from the peasants is tantamount to planning the Holodomor.
It can therefore be said that the plan for exterminating Ukrainian peasants was
disguised in the form of the state's excessive grain procurements.
All of the plans for
excessive grain procurements served criminal purposes but only the grain
procurement plans of 1932 and 1933 became plans for the genocidal extermination
of the Ukrainian peasantry.
In 1926, the last year
during which the free buying and selling of farm produce was still permitted,
the state procured 3.3 million tonnes of grain in Ukraine. With the
introduction of centralized grain procurement planned and managed from Moscow,
Ukraine's grain quota for 1928 was set at 4.4 million tonnes. The target for the
entire Soviet Union was 10.5 million tonnes. By 1930 the grain procurement
quotas had almost doubled and stood at 7.7 million tonnes for Ukraine, and 20
million for the entire Soviet Union.
With the divestiture of the
kulaks and forced collectivization, the traditional system of farming was
utterly destroyed. However, grain procurement quotas were sharply raised before
a new farming system was in place. Ukrainian collective farms started operating
in 1930. In
that year, thanks to favorable weather conditions, Ukraine harvested 23 million
tonnes and more than fulfilled its grain procurement plan. However, due to the
inefficiency of collective farm management, the bumper harvest was accompanied by
massive grain losses. As a result, the peasants were deprived of their usual
grain reserves with which they traditionally made a living.
Ignoring the needs of the
peasants in the mistaken belief that the success of the grain procurement plan
for 1930 was due to the advantages of the collective farm system, the Kremlin
leadership proceeded to inflate the 1931 grain procurement plan as well. Ukraine
was now required to supply 7.7 million tonnes of grain, and the other Union
republics - 21.4 million.
With a considerably smaller
harvest of 18.3 million tonnes, the procurement plan for 1931 was implemented
under extreme pressure by confiscating maximum amounts of grain from both
collective farms and individual peasants. Ukraine delivered only 7 million
tonnes of grain instead of 7.7 million. Large quantities of grain were again
confiscated from rural areas, as a result of which in 1931 there was already
starvation in many parts of Ukraine and even registered fatalities.
The report of the secret
political department of the Ail-Union State Political Directorate (OGPU) for
the end of 1931 and beginning of 1932 stated: "Food shortages and cases of
starvation of collective farm families have been observed in a number of
settlements of the Ukrainian SSR (in the Kharkiv, Kyiv, Odesa, Dnipropetrovsk,
and Vinnytsia regions)." However, there was no mention of famine in
official documents at that time; instead, euphemisms such as "food
shortages" and "hunger" were used. In planning and implementing
the grain procurements in 1930-31, the Bolshevik leadership probably still had
no intention of organizing a famine. Its goal at the time was not to eliminate
peasants in Ukraine and other regions of the USSR, but to accumulate large
centralized supplies of grain and other farm produce, which was required to
earn foreign currency. This income would then be used for the industrialization
of the USSR, the creation of a powerful military-industrial complex, for
modernizing and equipping the Red Army as the instrument of future
"liberation" campaigns, and for enforcing communism throughout the
The starvation and famine,
which first appeared by the end of 1931 and then spread throughout Ukraine and
other regions of the USSR at the beginning of 1932, was the logical consequence
of the criminal negligence of the communist leadership, which should have
foreseen the dangers of implementing the arbitrarily excessive grain
There can be no doubt that
the Bolshevik leaders fully understood that the continuous practice of such
procurement plans would precipitate a large-scale famine and doom millions of
peasants to death by starvation.
In comparison with
1930-1931, the 1932-1933 plans for grain procurements in Ukraine set somewhat
lower quotas at an annual level of 5.8 million tonnes. However, even these
quotas proved to be too onerous for rural areas because potential productivity
had been substantially weakened in the preceding years. The adoption of such
quotas was therefore tantamount to sanctioning the plans for exterminating the
Thus, the Ukrainian
Holodomor planned by Stalin's regime commenced with the implementation of the
1932 plan for grain procurement. In light of this, it is erroneous to assert
that the Holodomor-genocide started in Ukraine in 1933. Such a conclusion is
based upon the presumption that the crime of genocide requires a certain
quantitative threshold related to the number of victims. This is clearly
incorrect as the 1948 Convention does not make the number of victims a legal
element of the crime. It is not difficult to imagine instances where the number
of victims of genocide could be quite limited, involving not even thousands of
people, but only hundreds, as in the destruction of a small tribe or ethnic minority.
Killing by starvation
occurred in Ukraine and the Kuban both before and during 1933. The difference
between the two periods consisted only in the quantitative scale of the crime. While
in 1932 hundreds of thousands of people were starved to death, the death toll
in 1933 was already in the millions. However, the famine of 1932-1933 in both Ukraine and
the Kuban - unlike in other regions of the USSR, where many also perished of
hunger - was an act of genocide because it was deliberately directed against
the Ukrainian nation as such.
In the critical situation
that developed in Ukraine, a civilized solution to the crisis would have been
to drastically reduce the excessive grain procurement plans, stop the barbarian
plundering of rural areas, declare the famine-struck areas as zones of humanitarian
catastrophe, and immediately provide large-scale assistance.
totalitarian communist regime continued to implement excessive grain
procurement plans and, to ensure their unconditional fulfillment, also
undertook unprecedented repressive measures against the Ukrainian peasants,
accompanied by the confiscation of all food products.
In compliance with the
orders of Kremlin leaders, the resolutions of the Central Committee of the
Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine (CC of CP(B)U) of 18 November 1932, and
of the Council of People's Commissars of the Ukrainian SSR (CPC of Ukr. SSR) of
20 November 1932 required that grain produced on collective farms and retained
as in-kind stock be transferred to grain procurement stock. Moreover, it was
prohibited to make advance payments in the form of grain, and grain already
paid to peasants in lieu of wages was confiscated. Finally, as punishment for
failure to fulfill grain procurement schedules, and for the incorrect use of
grain and its embezzlement, fines were imposed in an amount equal to 15 monthly
collective farm meat quotas for both collectivized and individually-owned
By broadly interpreting
these decisions, those responsible for their implementation went well beyond
the in-kind fines in meat and confiscated other food products as well -
potatoes, kidney beans, onions, cabbage, etc. - under the pretext of striving
to fulfill the grain procurement plans.
The Resolution of the CPC
of the Ukr.SSR and the CC of the CP(b)U of 6 December 1932 approved the
"blacklisting" of villages that allegedly sabotaged grain
procurements. The punitive measures inflicted on such villages included the
following: halting the delivery of goods and removing all those remaining in
cooperative 10 and state shops; a comprehensive ban on cooperative and state trading,
and on collective-farm trading for both collective farmers and individual
peasants; cessation of all credit and the acceleration of repayment of existing
loans and other financial obligations; and the repression of all "alien,
hostile and counterrevolutionary elements."
On the basis of this and
similar decisions, hundreds of Ukrainian villages and even entire districts
were blacklisted. Their inhabitants were "ghettoized," deprived of
the bare necessities of life, and subjected to special fines and selective
political repression. Following implementation of the 1930-1931 grain
procurement plans, practically no grain supplies were left in the Ukrainian
countryside, as confirmed by the results of numerous searches and raids during
which infinitesimal amounts of grain - in terms of the state quotas - were confiscated.
Nevertheless, Stalin sent the Ukrainian leadership a telegram on 1 January 1933
that set forth a resolution of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist
Party (Bolshevik) (CC of AUCP(b)), which by implication gave the signal to intensify
mass searches and the confiscation of all vestiges of food belonging to
Ukrainian collective farms, collective farmers and individual peasants.
The strict and widespread
application of exceedingly cruel and repressive measures in order to fulfill
the excessive grain procurement plans, such as the arbitrary confiscation of
all food supplies, should be convincing proof of the intent of the totalitarian
regime to precipitate a famine in Ukraine as the instrument for the premeditated
extermination of the Ukrainian peasantry as part of the Ukrainian nation.
An analysis of the behavior
of the communist leaders reveals a body of circumstantial or indirect evidence
that convincingly proves the existence of the special intent required for the
crime of genocide.
First, at the height of the
Holodomor Ukrainian peasants were prohibited from leaving Ukraine. Army troops
and GPU units were stationed at railway stations and on the borders of the
Ukrainian SSR. The Resolution of the Politburo of the CC of the AUCP(b) and CPC
of the Ukr.SSR of 22 January 1933 gave orders to prevent "a mass exodus of
peasants from the Northern Caucasus to other areas, and the entry of peasants
from Ukraine into the territory of that region" and "a mass exodus
from Ukraine to other areas and entry into Ukraine from the Northern
Caucasus." This restriction deliberately deprived starving peasants of
access to life-saving food beyond the borders of famine-struck Ukraine, thereby
condemning them to death.
Second, Party and Soviet
leaders at all levels who disagreed with the excessive grain procurement plans
and who wished to help the starving peasants with collective-farm produce
reserves were systematically and ruthlessly repressed.
Third, the sizable
quantities of grain that had been accumulated in the state reserves of both the
Inviolable and Mobilization Funds were not used to help Ukraine. As of 1
January 1932 these two funds held a combined total of 2,033 million tonnes of
grain, and 3,034 million tonnes as of 1 January 1933. This quantity would have
been sufficient to supply, until the next harvest, the necessary bread rations
(one kilogram per day) for ten million people in 1932, and fifteen million in
Fourth, while millions of
Ukrainian peasants were starving to death, large quantities of grain and other
Ukrainian food products were being exported to other regions of the USSR and
abroad. The Soviet Union exported as much as 5.8 million tonnes of grain in 1930,
4.8 million tonnes in 1931, 1.6 million 1932, and 1.8 million in 1933.
There can be no doubt that
a restriction on grain exports in 1931 - by the end of which Ukraine was
starting to experience serious food shortages, starvation was spreading, and
the first signs of famine were appearing - and an outright ban on grain exports
in 1932-1933 could have prevented the famine. Moreover, such measures would not
have critically affected Soviet industrialization plans because world prices
for wheat had dropped and foreign currency revenues from grain exports had
decreased accordingly. In fact, in 1932-1933 the value of grain exports
amounted to only 369 million rubles, whereas exports of timber and petroleum products
earned approximately 1,570 million rubles.
Fifth, Stalin's regime
denied the existence of a famine in Ukraine and therefore refused to accept the
aid offered by many foreign non-governmental organizations and, in particular,
by the Ukrainian communities abroad. Such assistance would have substantially reduced
the scale of the tragedy, if not preventing it altogether. This policy of
denial and the refusal of international humanitarian aid is additional
convincing evidence of the regime's intention to use famine for exterminating
the Ukrainian peasantry as part of the Ukrainian nation.
Hence, the communist regime
had sufficient resources to prevent both the Holodomor in Ukraine and
starvation in other regions of the USSR. However, instead of using these
resources, a well-devised system of repressive measures was deliberately implemented
to deprive the peasants of all food because Kremlin leaders intended to use a
man-made famine as an instrument of genocidal extermination.
The regime's obvious
ability to "control" the famine in 1932-1933 confirmed the artificial
nature of the Ukrainian Holodomor and its deliberate use for killing the Ukrainian
peasants. By the middle of 1933 the mortality rate due to starvation began to
drop in Ukraine. In the following year the famine actually ended, even though
the 1934 harvest was a mere 12.3 million tonnes and much smaller than the
harvests of 1932 and 1933, which totaled 36.9 million tonnes.
The first measure taken to
stop the repressive confiscation of produce from the peasants was the secret
directive of Stalin and Molotov, signed on 8 May 1933 and circulated among all Party
and Soviet workers, OGPU departments, the judiciary and the prosecutor's
office: "The time has come when we no longer need mass repressions which,
as is known, concern not only the kulaks but also individual peasants and
collective farmers." As the peasants, isolated in their villages and
weakened by hunger, no longer posed a threat to the regime, the directive
called for an end to mass evictions, the "regulation" of arrests and
the "unloading" of places of detention.
Towards the end of 1933 and
beginning of 1934, the CC of the AUCP(b) and the CPC of the USSR adopted a
number of resolutions aimed at improving the living and working conditions on collective
farms. In particular, these measures included the repeal of unrealistic grain
procurement quotas and arbitrary expropriations of grain, and the introduction
of a new procedure for making advanced payments for participating in the
harvest (10 June 1933); the statutory right of peasants to own a cow, minor
livestock and poultry (20 June 1933); the preventing of collective farms that had already fulfilled their
planned targets from taking on additional work orders (2 August 1933); and
assistance to collective farmers for purchasing a cow for those who had none (10
The decisive factor in
stopping the famine was the cancellation of the old system of grain
procurements. The Resolution of the CC of the AUCP(b) and CPC of the USSR of 19
January 1934 set fixed quotas whereby the mandatory delivery of grain was not
to exceed one third of the gross yield of each farmstead during an average harvest.
As a result of this measure and the abolition of arbitrary expropriations,
grain exports were lowered by more than fifty percent in comparison with 1932-33. In 1934 only 770,000
tonnes of grain were exported.
"efficiency" in both organizing and ending the Holodomor is evidence
of the fact that the intent to exterminate the Ukrainian peasants was
implemented within the strict time limits that the regime had set for itself.
In attempting to deny the
genocidal nature of the Ukrainian Holodomor, reference is sometimes made to
archival documents attesting to the assistance given to various regions, including
Ukraine. For example, R. Davies of the United Kingdom and S. Wheatcroft of
Australia analyze some thirty-five resolutions of the CC of the AUCP(b) and CPC
of the USSR, adopted for such purposes between 7 February and 20 July 1933. The
American, M. Tauger, takes a similar position. It should be noted that there were
in fact many such decisions, issued not only by the central authorities and not
only in 1933. However, a study of these documents reveals that this assistance
was too late, too limited and too selective. Moreover, large quantities of this
aid were not even in the form of food products for starving humans, but seed
stock for collective farm sowing campaigns in preparation for the coming
When food aid finally did arrive in rural areas, it was only distributed in
a manner akin to soup kitchens, and only to those collective farmers who were
still able to work and lived in field camps. There were even resolutions that
restricted hospital treatment and feeding to healthier patients who had better
prospects of recovery. Finally, food aid was not provided to individual
peasants but distributed among local Party and Komsomol leaders and activists.
As V. Marochko rightly pointed out, the decisions of the central authorities
in 1932-1933 with respect to "improving the situation in Ukraine" and
"rendering aid" were not aimed at overcoming the causes of the famine
and saving Ukrainian peasants, but primarily at ensuring the needs of
production during the sowing and harvesting campaigns.
This assistance was also provided for propaganda purposes and to conceal the
criminal behavior of the authorities. In view of this factor, one can only
agree with the quite reasonable opinion of S. Kulchytsky that the assistance to
the peasants who had just been forcibly deprived of all their food supplies
should actually be considered an element of the crime.
Indeed, notwithstanding the food assistance, the mortality rate among the
Ukrainian peasants was still growing. The height of the Holodomor, when victims
numbered in the millions, was in the period February-June 1933, during which
the previously mentioned thirty-five resolutions on assistance to Ukrainian
peasants were adopted. In practical terms, the issue related less to the
provision of food aid and more to its non-provision. The selective distribution
of limited and carefully measured assistance to only a predetermined segment of
the peasantry meant the non-provision of assistance to the remainder who
numbered in the millions. Given the huge supplies of grain in centralized state
reserves and the sizable food exports, this type of assistance does not
disprove the intent to exterminate the Ukrainian peasants but is clear evidence
of the intent to partially exterminate them.
This intent to partially exterminate was determined not only by the specific
"assistance" rendered to the Ukrainian peasants doomed to death by
starvation, but also by the regime's pragmatic needs in terms of the human
resources necessary for collective-farm labor, industrial production, and the
Group: The Ukrainian Nation
Ukrainian peasants were not the only victims of the artificially induced
famine in 1932-1933. However, only the Ukrainian Holodomor, which engulfed
Ukraine and the Kuban, could be considered genocide. The famine elsewhere in
the USSR had the attributes of another international crime, namely,
extermination. The difference between genocide and extermination lies not in
the number of victims, since, from the legal point of view, quantitative
indicators do not constitute the criteria by which the criminal behavior
There was a qualitative difference between the Ukrainian Holodomor and
famines in other regions of the USSR: the peasants living outside Ukraine and
the Kuban were starved to death as a social class, whereas the Ukrainian
peasants were starved to death primarily because of their affiliation with the
The legitimacy and fairness of this assessment is obvious in light of
Bolshevik theory and practice with respect to the national question and the
regime's policy towards Ukraine.
The Leninist-Stalinist leadership always attached particular importance to
Ukraine because keeping it within Moscow's sphere of domination was a key
prerequisite for the viability of the communist regime and the new empire
known as the USSR. As Lenin stated, "To lose Ukraine is to lose the
head." Hence, the Bolsheviks refused to recognize the right of the
Ukrainian nation to establish an independent state. Notwithstanding Lenin's
slogan about the right of nations to self-determination, the Bolshevik leaders in
Ukraine - Gorovitz and Pyatakov - declared at the June 1917 meeting of the Kyiv
Committee of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party, that the Bolsheviks
would not support the independence of Ukraine because Russia could not exist
without its grain, coal, sugar, etc.
In the period 1917-1920 following the declaration of the Ukrainian People's
Republic (UPR), Soviet Russia occupied Ukraine three times under the contrived
pretext of providing armed assistance to the pro-Bolshevik Ukrainian Soviet
Republic that was established to counterbalance the UPR. Following the second
occupation of Ukraine in 1919, Lenin remarked, "Now that we have Ukraine, we
have grain." For the third occupation, completed in 1920, Bolshevik Russia
deployed six armies of 1.2 million soldiers to keep Ukraine within its grip.
Considering the extent of the Ukrainian liberation movement and the
impossibility of achieving a lasting conquest of Ukraine with arms alone,
Lenin, in December 1922, signed with the subservient Soviet government of
Ukraine the Union Treaty that recognized the independence of the Ukrainian
Socialist Soviet Republic, as it was then called. Other tactical concessions
were made as well, largely in the national-cultural sphere. In particular, a
policy of Ukrainianization was introduced, thereby contributing to de-Russification
and a strengthening of the Ukrainian identity.
While the Kremlin leadership was forced to make certain concessions, it had
in no way lessened its control over Ukraine and was actually preparing to take
revenge. The first step in that direction was the creation in December 1922 of
the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In practical terms, this marked the
beginning of the re-creation of the former empire, albeit in a somewhat
narrower geopolitical space and with a new communist role.
The reintegration of Ukraine was clearly a success for the Kremlin
leadership, as it strengthened its power grip on the republic without
curtailing the letter's freedom to pursue its own national-cultural course.
Moreover, Ukrainianization was acknowledged by the Party as its official policy
on national-cultural development, as based on the resolutions of the 7th
Conference of the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine (CP(b)U) of 4-ifJ
April 1923, and the 12th Congress of the AUCP(b) of 17-25 April 1923. Despite
certain controversies and inconsistencies in implementation, the policy of
Ukrainianization was a powerful instrument in making Ukraine "Ukrainian."
Ukrainianization not only involved the extensive use of the Ukrainian
language but had an impact on other key spheres of public life as well. In
particular, with the Ukrainianization carried out under the leadership of the
CP(b)U and with the active participation of O. Shumskiy and M. Skrypnyk, a
European-style cultural renaissance took place. Cultural traditions quite different
from the Russian began to take form and were psychologically more oriented
towards Europe under the motto "Away from Moscow" (M. Khvylioviy). A
national system of education was established (H. Hrynko) and an economic
concept was developed according to which Ukraine was to become an autonomous
economic entity (M. Volobuyev).
In 1928 the Ukrainian Central Committee once again raised the issue of
transferring areas with a Ukrainian majority in the Kursk and Voronezh regions
of Russia to the Ukr.SSR. They also raised the issue of Ukrainianization in the
Kuban, which at that time was essentially Ukrainian by tradition, language and
culture, but whose inhabitants had already begun to lose their Ukrainian identity.
By the end of the 1920s, eight of the seventeen divisions stationed in
Ukraine were manned by Ukrainians. Moreover, the Ukrainian language was
beginning to be taught in military educational institutions.
Finally, the authority and influence of the national church -the Ukrainian
Autocephalous Orthodox Church - was growing.
Objectively, Ukrainianization was a continuation of the national resurgence
inspired by the Ukrainian liberation movement and founding of the UPR.
Ukraine's national renaissance therefore raised concern within the Kremlin's
communist leadership, which was faced - as had previously been the Russian
Empire - with the need, albeit on a much greater scale, to uproot Ukrainian separatism.
Judging from reports of the Ukrainian GPU, or the local secret service
controlled by Moscow, the threat of Ukrainian separatism was a matter of grave
concern. The Ukrainian GPU monitored the population's mood, studied the
attitudes of its various strata towards the communist regime, assessed
"separatist manifestations" and devised counter measures to thwart
them. Particular attention was directed to the activities of
"separatists" aiming to involve the Ukrainian peasantry in
implementing their secessionist plans. The secret circular "On Ukrainian
Separatism," issued by the Ukrainian GPU on 4 September 1926, noted that
the "nationalists take a special interest in rural areas" and their
work "in instilling the peasants with a hatred of Moscow produces
noticeable results, especially among the youth." In light of this, the
secret circular concluded that it was necessary "to link the work on the
Ukrainian intelligentsia with the work in rural communities."
The most active phase of this "work" began with the trial in 1929-1930
involving the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine (ULU), which was directed
against the leading segment of the Ukrainian elite and ended with the
extermination of millions of Ukrainian peasants during the Holodomor in
1932-1933. The defendants in the case, as V. Prystaiko and Yu. Shapoval noted,
were charged with intent to dismantle the USSR and to separate Ukraine from the
other union republics. Hence, by setting up the ULU case, the Communist
authorities believed they were putting an end to the attempts of certain forces
to rally under the banner of Ukrainian "nationalism" or
Forty-five persons were indicted at the trial but another seven hundred were
soon arrested in connection with the case. More than 30,000 Ukrainians, mainly
members of the intellectual elite, were repressed during and after the Union
for Liberation trial. Moreover, the net was broadened further, as a result of
which the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church was banned.
Thus, a large-scale purge of the most important segment of the Ukrainian
elite took place, which, had there been a popular resistance to Stalin's rural
policy, could have led the peasants in a struggle to overthrow the regime and
establish an independent Ukrainian state.
Resistance to the Bolshevik regime was witnessed throughout the Soviet Union
but it was most intensive in Ukraine. A total of 13,754 peasant rebellions,
uprisings, and riots involving some 2.5 million people were documented in 1930
by the OGPU. Of these, 4,098 insurrections involving more than a million people
took place in Ukraine, and 1,061 insurrections with about 250,000 people, in
the Northern Caucasus. In his 1930 report on the political situation among the
Ukrainian peasantry and elimination of the kulaks as a class, OGPU Deputy
Chief V. Balytsky wrote that in certain villages the inhabitants sang
"Neither the glory nor the freedom of Ukraine has died" and shouted
slogans like "Down with Soviet power!" and "Long live an
Notwithstanding the repression of the leading stratum of Ukrainian society
and the punitive actions against the peasantry with GPU troops, the resistance
continued but in a spontaneous and unorganized manner. Under the right
conditions, however, it could have developed into a nationwide upheaval. This
course of events was greeted with disquiet by Stalin's regime, which was planning
further anti-Ukrainian actions under the pretext of fighting the Ukrainian
"counterrevolutionary underground." This was corroborated, in
particular, by a top-secret operational order of the Ukrainian GPU of 13
The order stated that a GPU operational strike force had "uncovered a
counterrevolutionary insurgent underground in Ukraine that included as many as
200 districts, about 30 railway stations and depots, and several settlements
near border zones." On the basis of this information, the order concluded
that there was a single, carefully developed plan for an "organized armed
uprising in Ukraine before the spring of 1933 with the aim of overthrowing Soviet
power and establishing a capitalist state, the so-called Ukrainian Independent
Republic." It should be noted that the anticipated date of the uprising
coincided rather curiously with the point in time when the Holodomor and
repressions in Ukraine reached their peak.
In light of what is known today this assessment of the situation and the
conclusions drawn were, to put it mildly, greatly over-exaggerated. However,
the fear on the part of the Stalinist leaders in losing both power and Ukraine
was by no means an exaggeration.
It is also important to note that, conceptually, the order of 13 February
1933 echoed Stalin's now famous letter to Kaganovich of 11 August 1932, in which he had
stressed: "The most important thing now is Ukraine," where affairs
are going badly -"along Party lines," "Soviet lines," and
"GPU lines." Accordingly, Stalin concluded, "If we do not
straighten out the situation in Ukraine now, we could lose Ukraine."
The Holodomor was but one component in a multi-stage, preemptive punitive
operation directed against the Ukrainian nation whose renaissance posed a
threat to the unity and very existence of the Soviet empire. In the course of
this operation the artificially induced famine dealt a crushing blow to the
Ukrainian peasantry, thereby physically exterminating a major part of the
nation and undermining its potential for liberation.
According to the 1926 All-Union Census, the rural population of Ukraine was
23.3 million, constituting 81% of its 31.2 million inhabitants; and of the
rural population itself, 20.6 million, or 87.6% were Ukrainians. At the
beginning of 1932 Ukraine's population totaled 32.5 million, of which 25.5
million lived in rural areas. As before, Ukrainians comprised an overwhelming
majority of the rural population and in certain regions their numbers exceeded
It is often claimed that the Ukrainian Holodomor was not a crime of genocide
because it lacked an exclusively national dimension, that is, the victims of
the famine included not only Ukrainians but also the national minorities that
lived in Ukraine at that time.
This view is similar to the rather paradoxical position of S. Kulchytsky,
which he stated as follows: "The terror by famine that Stalin implemented
in Ukraine and the Kuban was a genocide of Ukrainian citizens but not of
Ukrainians." Kulchytsky argues that Stalin had good reason to fear the
citizens of the Ukr.SSR; and no one - neither the descendants of Ukrainian
citizens who starved to death nor the international community - can prove that
the extermination of Ukrainians was similar to the extermination of the
Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 or of the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.
This approach is basically wrong because it is inconsistent with the criteria
of the 1948 Convention on Genocide.
First of all, three quarters of the population of the Kuban, which was part
of the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic, were Ukrainians but citizens
of the Russian Federation and not citizens of Ukraine.
Second, according to the 1948 Convention, genocide means certain acts that
are committed with the intent to destroy a particular national, ethnical,
racial or religious group, but not citizens as such. In other words, people are
exterminated precisely because of their affiliation with a certain national,
ethnical, racial or religious group and that group per se is the target of the
Third, Stalin did not fear the citizens of Ukraine. Rather, he feared the
Ukrainian national renaissance and therefore delivered a pre-emptive strike
against the Ukrainian nation as such. It is for this reason that Ukrainians
became the victims of his criminal actions, and not simply because they were
citizens of Ukraine.
Fourth, it is incorrect to contrast the Ukrainian Holodomor or to equate it
with the genocide of the Armenians or Jews because each incident has its own
external material characteristics. What is important from a legal point of view
is not the identical or similar nature of these features but the conformity of
each of these crimes with the criteria set forth in the 1948 Convention on
Genocide. It is futile to attempt to prove the similarity between the
extermination of the Ukrainians, Armenians and Jews in the course of their
respective national tragedies because there is no such similarity and,
objectively, there cannot be. Rather, one must prove that the specific
characteristics of the Ukrainian Holodomor meet the criteria of the 1948
The lack of an identical correspondence between the Ukrainian Holodomor and
Jewish Holocaust cannot be a reason for denying the genocidal nature of the
Ukrainian national tragedy. The Nazis transported Jews from all over Europe to
concentration camps where they were gassed to death. The Ukrainians were
starved to death by artificial famine on their own ethnic territory. The material
features of each crime are obviously not the same but their legal dimensions,
in light of the 1948 Convention, are identical.
One of the specific characteristics of the Holodomor was that, throughout
Ukraine's history, national minority communities had settled amongst Ukrainians
in certain regions of the country. Therefore, members of Ukraine's national
minorities did perish during the Holodomor along with Ukrainians. They too
became the victims of the Kremlin leadership's crimes. However, the genocide was
directed not against them but against the Ukrainian nation. It is well
established in international law and practice that the nation, and not ethnic
minorities is the subject of state-creating self-determination. The Holodomor
was planned and implemented as a stage in the special operation against the
Ukrainian nation as such because it was only the Ukrainian nation that could
have exercised the right to self-determination by seceding from the USSR and
establishing an independent state.
Forming the basis of the Ukrainian nation, the Ukrainian peasantry - and not
members of the national minorities - was the vital resource and driving force
of Ukrainian popular uprisings and the national liberation movements. For this
reason it is understandable that the target of the Holodomor was the Ukrainian
The fact that members of national minorities of Ukraine were victims of the
Holodomor cannot be used to justify a denial of its anti-Ukrainian nature.
During the Jewish Holocaust, the Nazis also exterminated Gypsies, Poles,
Byelorussians, Ukrainians and members of other nations whom they also held to
be racially inferior and potential enemies of the Reich. The massacres at Babi
Yar and other places of mass extermination of Jews bore witness to this.
Nobody, however, denies that the Holocaust was the genocide of the Jewish
Members of the various national minorities of Ukraine were innocent victims
of the Holodomor, not because they were Russians, Jews, Poles, Germans or
Bulgarians, but because they lived within the Ukrainian nation against which
the crime was directed. They found themselves as if on the line of fire, like
when the plan is to kill a particular person but bystanders are killed as well.
Nobody, however, would attempt to deny that a crime was committed on the basis
that unintended victims also perished.
Singling out the Ukrainian dimension of the Holodomor does not mean denying
or ignoring the extermination by man-made famine of the national minorities of
Ukraine, as demonstrated by the work of Ukrainian Holodomor researchers, and in
particular, by O. Ivanov, I. Ivankov, and V. Marochko. A meticulous study of
the fate of Ukraine's national minorities should become an integral part of
future official investigations into all of the circumstances of the Holodomor
on the territory of Ukraine.
From the point of view of international law, the mass murder by starvation
of the national minorities of Ukraine was the crime of extermination. It is
also an aggravating circumstance to be considered in determining the degree of
guilt and level of responsibility of the perpetrators of the Holodomor.
In light of the above, it is legally incorrect to broadly construe the
concept of "national group" in such a way that the target of genocide
is considered to be "part of the Ukrainian people -all of the victims of
the Holodomor... irrespective of their ethnic, religious and other
characteristics" (Ye. Zakharov). This approach is consistent with the
provisions of the Law "On the Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine" that
was adopted in 2006. However, it is contrary to the provisions of both article
II of the 1948 Convention and article 442 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine,
which define the corpus delicti of the crime of genocide. It should be noted
that in the draft of the Law "On the Holodomor," the Holodomor was
held to constitute the genocide of the Ukrainian nation. In the course of
debating the draft, O. Moroz, then Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine,
proposed to substitute the word "nation" with "people." The
Verkhovna Rada agreed to this legally groundless and provocative amendment,
which creates a legal conflict and by implication opens the way for denying the
genocidal nature of the Holodomor. This conflict should be eliminated by
amending the Law "On the Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine" and
having it conform to the provisions of article 442 of the Criminal Code of
Ukraine and article II of the 1948 Convention.
Attempts to deny the genocidal nature of the Ukrainian Holodomor are also
sometimes based on the fact that the artificially induced famine killed not
only Ukrainians in Ukraine, but also Russians, Kazakhs, Tatars, Bashkirs and
many others in various regions of the USSR. This approach is at the center of
the conceptual assessment of the famine of 1932-1933 by Russian historians,
public officials, and by certain foreign researchers, such as S. Merl of
The Russian position can be briefly stated as follows: since the famine of
1932-1933 on the territory of the Russian Federation was not considered to be
genocide, the famine in Ukraine cannot be considered genocide either. This
position lacks elementary logic and is an attempt to impose the Russian view of
Ukrainian history on Ukrainians and the world. For that matter the proponents of
this approach provide neither convincing arguments nor documents that equate the
starvation in Russia with the Holodomor in Ukraine. And for one very good
reason: they do not exist.
By inducing an artificial famine, Stalin's regime aimed at partially
exterminating (a) peasants, as members of a social group considered hostile to
that regime, in order to subdue them and suppress their resistance; and (b) the
Ukrainian national group as such, since its development posed a potential
threat to the integrity and very existence of the communist empire, and since the
peasants constituted an essential part of the Ukrainian nation and offered the
greatest resistance to the regime.
Singling out the Ukrainian Holodomor as a crime of genocide - which is based
upon extensive facts - in no way denies the criminal nature of acts of the
communist regime that led to the mass destruction of peasants of other
nationalities on the territory of the RSFSR. It may be that the criminal acts
committed at that time against the Kazakhs, Tatars, and Bashkirs were also acts
of genocide, but this can only be proved or disproved by special studies and
official investigations in Kazakhstan, Tatarstan, and Bashkortostan.
The foregoing raises a particular question: Could Stalin's totalitarian
regime have committed the crime of genocide against Russian peasants? To this question
there is but one answer - No. Just as the Ukrainian peasants were ethnic
Ukrainians, the Russian peasants were ethnic Russians. Both the former and the
latter belonged to national groups, but the position and role of each were
quite different in the Russian and Soviet empires.
The Russian nation was the "system-creating" element upon which
both empires were built. Russian nationalism was never associated with
separatism but with Messianism and a belief in imperial unity and greatness. It
was the official instrument of the "white empire" and - disguised as
internationalism - the political instrument of the "red empire."
The Russian nation and its constituent part, the Russian peasantry, could
not, by definition, have become a target of genocide because the Communist
regime was in principle not interested in exterminating the Russian nation as
such. The resistance of the Russian peasantry to the Bolshevik regime did not
manifest itself with the threat of political separatism and was not associated by
the regime with the possibility of Russia's secession from the USSR.
The Ukrainian nation, however, was always regarded by the rulers of both
empires as a "system-destroying" element. The driving force behind
Ukrainian nationalism was the idea of secession from the empire and the
establishing of the Ukrainian Independent United State.
The Ukrainian peasant's sense of national identity and hostility towards
Bolshevism laid the foundation for Ukrainian separatism and posed a threat to
the unity and the very existence of the USSR. It was for this reason that the
Holodomor was directed against the Ukrainian nation as such and aimed at its
weakening by the genocidal extermination of the Ukrainian peasantry as the
major component of the nation and source of its spiritual and material
The specifically anti-Ukrainian nature of the Holodomor was evidenced inter
alia by the following facts.
The severest repressive measures that precipitated the artificial famine
were applied by the regime in Ukraine and the Kuban. At that time the latter
formed part of the RSFSR but was Ukrainian by culture, language, and tradition.
According to the 1926 census, as many as 1.412 million Ukrainians lived in the
Kuban, which made up 75% of the region's population. In total there were 3.107
million Ukrainians in the Northern Caucasus.
Kaganovich, Stalin's most loyal lieutenant who was given the responsibility
of ensuring the grain procurements in Ukraine and the Northern Caucasus,
introduced the practice of blacklisting as an additional punitive measure
directed at Ukrainian and Kuban peasants who were forcibly deprived of all
grain and other produce.
In the speeches, correspondence, and all-union resolutions of the Kremlin
leaders, the Kuban had often been singled out together with Ukraine as a region
deserving special attention. This is evident, for example, in the speeches that
Kaganovich made during his visits to the Northern Caucasus, his correspondence
with Stalin, and the resolutions of the Politburo of the CC of the AUCP(b) of 1
November 1932 and Northern Caucasus Territorial Party Committee of 4 November
I. Zelenin, a Russian researcher of the 1932-1933 famine, notes that the
actions of the CC of the AUCP(b) Commission for Grain Procurements in the Volga
region, headed by Postyshev, "varied somewhat from those of Kaganovich and
Molotov in the Northern Caucasus and Ukraine." Zelenin believes, and not
without grounds, that the peasants of the Lower Volga suffered to a lesser degree
from famine than did the rural population of Ukraine and the Northern Caucasus.
As V. Kondrashin noted, in 1932 the situation in the Northern Caucasus was
destabilized by the "Ukrainian factor." The announced grain
procurement plans caused panic among the peasants of the Kuban and Don regions
who knew about the famine in Ukraine and feared that they were threatened with
the same. It is quite obvious that the panic spread throughout the region because
it was populated predominantly by Ukrainians who knew about developments in
Ukraine, although V. Kondrashin does not mention this fact.
Together with the statutory acts by means of which the man-made famine was
induced on the entire territory of the USSR, there were a number of
specifically "Ukrainian" or rather anti-Ukrainian bylaws,
resolutions, instructions, directives, etc. For example, according to the
bylaws adopted at the all-union level in January 1933, only the peasants of
Ukraine and the Kuban were prevented from leaving for the neighboring regions
of Russia and Byelorussia in search of food. Blockades were imposed at the
borders and enforced by GPU and militia units. To prevent starving Ukrainian
peasants from fleeing, army troops also blocked their access to the border
zones adjacent to Romania and Poland.
Stalin's regime directly associated grain procurements in Ukraine and the
Northern Caucasus with Ukrainianization, as evidenced by the Resolution of the
CC of the AUCP(b) and the CPC of the USSR "On Grain Procurements in
Ukraine, the Northern Caucasus and Western Region" of 14 December 1932.
The resolution, in its rather lengthy paragraphs 4, 6, and 7, specifically
mentioned only Ukraine and the Northern Caucasus. The Ukrainian leaders were
severely criticized for improperly applying the national policy, while the
Northern Caucasus leaders were criticized for their un-Bolshevik
Ukrainianization that made it easier for the bourgeois nationalists and, in
particular, the followers of S. Petliura and members of the Kuban Rada (similar
to the Central Rada of Ukraine) "to create their legal facade, and their counterrevolutionary
centers and organizations."
The resolution contained instructions for the CC of the CP(b) U and the CPC
of Ukraine to "expel Petliura's followers and other bourgeois nationalists
from Party and Soviet organizations," and directed the Northern Caucasus
Territorial Executive Committee to do the following:
to resettle in the shortest time possible all inhabitants fromthe Poltavska
(Northern Caucasus) stanitsa, the most counterrevolutionary of Cossack
villages, to northern regions of the USSR, with the exception of collective
farmers and individual peasants who are truly loyal to Soviet authority, and to
populate this stanitsa with collective farmers who served in the Red Army;
to immediately transfer all activity in Soviet and cooperative offices of
Ukrainianized districts in the Northern Caucasus, and the publication of all
newspapers and magazines from Ukrainian into the Russian language, which is
better understood by Kuban inhabitants; and to prepare the school system for
instruction in the Russian language.
This resolution convincingly proves that the man-made famine in Ukraine and
the Northern Caucasus was used not only as an instrument for genocidal
extermination, but primarily as a pretext for destroying the Ukrainian national
identity and the carriers of this identity because of their affiliation to the
Ukrainian national group.
The all-union laws and regulations were implemented throughout the USSR
using practically the same methods, but the scope, targeting and, accordingly,
their effects differed from region to region. The most meticulous and ruthless
application took place in Ukraine and the Kuban. The most active stages of
grain expropriation from Ukrainian peasants also coincided with hysterical
anti-Ukrainian campaigns in the all-union press.
In comparison with other regions, the mortality rate in Ukraine and the
Kuban was much higher and exceeded the rate of natural mortality by several
tenfold. Significantly high mortality rates were observed in the rural areas
populated mainly by Ukrainians (S. Kulchytsky), which was indicative of the
particularly cruel and widespread confiscation of produce directed specifically
When the Holodomor ended in the second half of 1933, the All-Union Committee
on Resettlement was established pursuant to the Resolutions of the Politburo of
the CC of the AUCP(b) and the CPC of the USSR. As a result of these decisions,
forty-two districts were selected in the Odesa, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, and Kharkiv
regions to which people from Russia and Byelorussia were relocated in an
organized way to replace the Ukrainians killed by famine. During the first
stage of this operation at the end of 1933 and beginning of 1934, about 20,000
families were relocated to Ukraine. Depopulated Ukrainian villages were settled
mainly by Russians and Byelorussians, and also by Jews and Germans, even though
there were several million Ukrainians living within the Soviet Union outside
The news articles of foreign correspondents and classified reports of
foreign embassies and consulates were mainly focused on the famine in Ukraine
and the Northern Caucasus. Both sources of information gave estimates of the
human lives lost and stressed that the famine in Ukraine was planned with the
aim of suppressing and exterminating the Ukrainian nation.
Thus, the analytical report, "Famine and the Ukrainian Question,"
prepared in May 1933 by S. Gradenigo, the Italian Royal Consul in Kharkiv,
stated: "[The policy of the Moscow leadership] aims at eliminating the Ukrainian
problem within several months by sacrificing some ten to fifteen million
people. This figure does not seem to be exaggerated and in my opinion has
already been attained and will be surpassed... From this I deduce that the present
catastrophe will lead to the colonization of Ukraine by a mainly Russian
population, which will change Ukraine's ethnographic nature. It may happen that
in the very near future we will speak about neither Ukraine nor the Ukrainian
people. Hence, there will be no Ukrainian problem because Ukraine will actually
have become part of Russia."
In a political report by the German Consulate in Kyiv on 15 January 1934, it
was noted: "The situation with respect to the Ukrainian question can only
be assessed this year in the context of the great famine. Because of this
catastrophe, the responsibility for which the Ukrainian people place solely on
the policy carried out by the Moscow leadership, the long-standing division between
Ukrainian advocates of independence and the proponents of a Moscow-based
centralism has only deepened. Characteristic of the people's thinking is the
widespread belief that the Soviet government is intentionally intensifying the
famine to bring Ukrainians to their knees."
It is also worth quoting the document "Is Ukraine Ukrainian?"
which is held in the archives of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The
anonymous author stated in May 1936, after traveling for several weeks
throughout the country: "A Ukrainian Ukraine has been destroyed. According
to various estimates, six million people or one fifth of a population that once
exceeded 30 million died of starvation. The people are now so weak that they
will not be able to withstand this last blow of Moscow centralism... In the future,
a detailed historical study may very well establish that during the horrifying
1932-1933 period, the will of the Ukrainian people was broken - at least for
decades, if not forever."
Fortunately, these pessimistic forecasts have not materialized. However,
their underlying basis and content should convincingly demonstrate that the
criminal, genocidal acts of the Kremlin leadership were targeted at the
Ukrainian nation as such.
Despite historical hardships, Ukraine regained its independent statehood.
However, the Ukrainian nation suffered enormous losses, the consequences of
which are still felt today. Together with the political repression and
deportations that took place prior to, during and after 1932-1933, the
Holodomor has had a catastrophic cumulative effect. The genetic potential of
the Ukrainian nation was dealt a crushing blow. The traditional structure of
Ukrainian society was ruined and accompanied by the country's devastation. The
nation was psychologically traumatized by terrible pictures of people dying en
masse, by the painful death of family and friends, and by the shocking moral
degradation in struggling for survival in total famine. The Ukrainian
liberation movement and the nation's ability to resist were significantly
weakened, and national traditions were undermined. National revival, normal cultural
development, and the strengthening of the nation's unity, dignity and spiritual
life were retarded. In the meantime there reigned an atmosphere of fear,
brutality, falsehood, double standards and amorality.
Independent Ukraine's progress is still hampered by the Holodomor's ruinous
effects, the overcoming of which is necessary for social recovery, national
consolidation and the building of a successful country.
There is no precise number of the Holodomor's victims as it is practically
impossible to determine this figure. In concealing the scale of the crime and
its deadly consequences, the Kremlin leadership prohibited medical institutions
and the various state agencies responsible for civil registrations, vital
statistics and movement of population to record actual causes of death. When in
1933 the famine was at its peak, the deceased were buried in common graves
without any records being kept. As noted by S. Kulchytsky, the work of state
institutions in rural areas at the time was disrupted and in some areas
completely paralyzed. In 1934 the bureaus of civilian registrations and related
archives of vital statistics were subordinated to the NKVD and all free access
to demographic data was terminated.
Despite the Communist authorities' denial of the very fact of the famine,
the extent of the demographic catastrophe in Ukraine could not but attract the
attention of foreign journalists, diplomats and various specialists working in
the USSR at that time.
The first empirical estimates of the number of Holodomor victims already
began to appear in the western press when the famine was at its height. Unlike
news reports, the diplomatic reports were classified and only became known much
later. Analyses of news and diplomatic reports at the time show great discrepancies
in the number of victims, with the figures varying between one and fifteen
million. With these estimates it is only possible to conclude that millions of
people - both in and beyond Ukraine -fell victim to the Holodomor and that
Ukraine suffered the greatest number of losses.
In addition to the empirical estimates of the number of Holodomor victims,
there were also several professional estimates made in the 1940-50s by
researchers who applied a number of different methods in using the all-union
censuses of 1926 and 1939. (The all-union census of 1937 was declared by the
Soviet leadership to be defective and its publication was prohibited.)
According to the estimates made before Soviet demographic statistics were declassified,
the maximum number of victims was lowered from 15 million to 7.5 million, while
the minimum number was raised from 1 million to 2.5 million.
After access to Soviet archives was re-opened at the end of the 1980s, the
total number of Holodomor victims in Ukraine was further narrowed to vary
between 2.6 and 5.2 million.
The total number of Holodomor victims remains a controversial issue to this
very day. As before, researchers obtain conflicting results, even within the
scope of the same study.
This is demonstrated, for example, by the research report submitted in 2008
by the Institute of Demography and Social Studies of the National Academy of
Sciences of Ukraine and entitled "Demographic Catastrophe in Ukraine as a
Result of the Holodomor in 1932-1933: Factors, Magnitude &
Consequences." The report gives somewhat conflicting estimates of the
number of victims in Ukraine. At page 76 it states that cumulative demographic
losses totaled 5.5-5.6 million, and the number of lives lost due to the
excessive mortality rate was 3.4-3.5 million at maximum. At page 78, however,
total losses are estimated at million, of which 5.1 million occurred in rural
areas. At page 82 Ukraine's total losses in 1932 are given as 795,000, and in 1933
- 3.5 million, i.e. 4.295 million overall, while at page 84, in providing a summary,
the report states that Ukraine's demographic losses resulting from the
Holodomor are estimated at million, of which 3.4 million losses were due to
increased mortality, and 1.1 million due to a decline in the birth rate. It is also
stated here that cumulative demographic losses totaled approximately 6 million.
Discrepancies in the number of human losses caused by the Holodomor are
explained not so much by the different statistical methods as by the unreliable
underlying data. Even when calculations are made according to all demographic
standards, the results can hardly be regarded as reliable if they are based on
the 1937 and 1939 censuses. It is common knowledge that the validity of those
censuses - and particularly that of the 1937 census - is doubtful. As noted by
S. Kulchytsky, between only one-third and one-half of all deaths were recorded
in Ukraine, but death by hunger was not specifically stated. Moreover, from
March to August 1933 the actual rate of mortality, including natural mortality,
was two to three times greater than the figure indicated in statistical
The census documents also did not duly account for migration. For example,
the absurdity of the statistics of both censuses is evident in the results from
1926 to 1937, according to which the population of Ukraine fell by merely
538,639, but by more than 3 million from 1926 to 1939.
Given such circumstances, present-day professional estimates cannot be
treated as unconditional alternatives to past professional estimates or to
certain first-hand empirical estimates by observers at that time, especially
long-time residents of Ukraine who visited rural regions and who had
confidential access to people with relevant information.
Taking into account the peculiarities of the situation, it is necessary to
develop new approaches to correcting false demographic statistics and to using
earlier professional and empirical estimates. A harmonization of such
approaches would only improve the reliability of the results obtained.
The difficulties encountered in estimating the total number of Holodomor
victims are sometimes used to cast doubt on Ukraine's national tragedy and to
deny its genocidal nature. As stated above, a key factor in qualifying criminal
behavior as the crime of genocide is not the number of people killed but the intent
to destroy a particular group as such by exterminating its members in whole or
in part. The number of victims is not a legal requirement for genocide but only
one of the evidentiary elements of the crime. Establishing this element is but
an additional means for proving intent to partially or completely destroy a
particular group, and for determining the gravity of the crime and the appropriate
punishment. If the crime is directed against a particular group as such, the
murder of any number of its members constitutes genocide.
Even if the number of Ukrainians who perished during the Holodomor was
stated to be, not in the millions but much less, this would not have changed
the genocidal nature of the crime. Even estimates that give the lowest numbers
confirm that millions of people died. It should be stressed again that, from
the legal point of view, concentrating on the exact number of millions - three,
five, seven or ten - is pointless and irrelevant. At the same time, any
political manipulation with figures that either increases or decreases the
number of Holodomor victims is morally impermissible, as it displays a blatant
disrespect towards their memory.
The Ukrainian Holodomor was organized by using all of the elements of the
Party and Soviet system that formed the mechanism of the totalitarian
"party state" (Gray - Dorsey) or "commune state" (S.
Kulchytsky). A specific feature of this state was the total subordination of
virtually every state body and public organization, both central and local, to
the Communist Party. Shortly after the October coup of 1917, it had
practically, and by the beginning of the 1920s, had actually become the only
party in the country. With the formation of the USSR, it was named the
All-Union Communist Party (of Bolsheviks) (AUCP(b)).
The AUCP(b) was headed by the Politburo, which possessed real power in the
USSR and was comprised of a fixed number of party leaders. After Stalin
strengthened his position in the intra-party struggle and emerged as sole
leader with dictatorial powers, his loyal followers - Kaganovich, Molotov,
Mikoyan, Kalinin and a few others - became, as of the 1920s, the most influential
members in the Politburo. The decisions adopted by the Politburo were enacted into
laws and resolutions of the constitutional organs of power, and on the most
important issues, in joint decisions of the Central Committee of the AUCP(b)
and CPC of the USSR.
According to the 1924 Constitution, the USSR was a federal state, the
constituent republics of which had wide powers. However, by the beginning of
the 1930s, this Soviet federation was transformed into an ultra-centralized
totalitarian party state led by Stalin and his closest associates. The
legitimization of the dictatorship of the communist leaders, who ideologically
shrouded themselves with demagogical slogans, was implemented through statutory
acts of the Union and union republics' bodies of state power. These acts often
bore the stamp "top secret" and were not made public. Party decisions
on particularly important issues and the corresponding resolutions of various
state bodies were approved by Stalin and his inner circle without any formal
discussion even in the Politburo. They were often not even recorded in official
documents but nonetheless served as guidelines for the party dictatorship's
entire chain of command, from Moscow to the furthest peripheries.
The CP(b)U was a constituent part of the AUCP(b). It was deprived of
independence and used by the all-union political leadership to keep Ukraine
firmly within its control. To this end, party decisions, and laws and
resolutions adopted at the center were then duplicated in Ukraine with corresponding
acts of the CC of the CP(b)U, the Politburo of the CC of the CP(b)U, the Council
of People's Commissars of the Ukr.SSR, and the All-Ukrainian Central Executive
Committee. An important role in planning the suppression of Ukraine was
assigned to the Ukrainian GPU (prior to 1922, the All-Ukrainian Extraordinary
This tandem of the CP(b)U and GPU in the 1930s was not Ukrainian, either by
the ethnic composition of its leadership or by the orientation of its
activities. Strictly controlled by the Kremlin, it was an obedient instrument
for implementing the anti-Ukrainian policy of the center.
The Kremlin leadership played the principal role - as ideologist and
organizer - in precipitating the Holodomor in Ukraine. The Party and Soviet
leaderships of Ukraine became the active participants and accomplices in the
The judiciary, prosecutor's office, special services, Red Army, and interior
ministry, GPU and frontier troops were all involved in committing the crime.
In the lower tiers were the local leaders of the CP(b)U and bodies of Soviet
power that recruited activists from the committees of poor peasants, and rural
Party and Komsomol organizations to expropriate food produce from the
The chief ideologist and organizer of the Holodomor was Stalin, who played
the leading role in planning the crime, devising the mechanism for its
implementation, and controlling the process. As the General Secretary of the CC
of the AUCP(b) who ruled the Politburo with dictatorial will, Stalin masterminded
all principal party decisions related to the Holodomor in Ukraine.
Specialized elements of the centralized machinery for organizing the
Holodomor in Ukraine and the Northern Caucasus were the Extraordinary Grain
Procurement Commissions, established pursuant to decisions of the Politburo of
the CC of the AUCP(b). The commissions were headed by Stalin's closest
The Procurement Commission for Ukraine was headed by V. Molotov, a member of
the Politburo of the CC of the AUCP(b) and Chairman of the CPC of the USSR. The
Commission for the Northern Caucasus was headed by L. Kaganovich, a member of
the Politburo, and Secretary of the CC of the AUCP(b) and Chief of its Agricultural
Department. Although the membership of Molotov's commission in Ukraine was not
defined, Kaganovich actually participated in its work. He was from Ukraine,
knew the country well and had been General Secretary of the CC of the CP(b)U in
A special role in Ukraine was also performed by Postyshev. Both he and Kaganovich
were instructed by the Resolution of the CC of the AUCP(b) and the CPC of the
USSR "On Grain Procurements in Ukraine" of 19 December 1932 to take
all necessary measures together with the republic's leadership to ensure the
fulfillment of the grain procurement plans. To this end, Kaganovich and
Postyshev visited Ukraine 20-29 December 1932.
In January 1933 Postyshev was appointed Second Secretary of the CC of the
CP(b)U and First Secretary of the Kharkiv Regional Committee of the CP(b)U. At
the same time, he remained Secretary of the CC of the AUCP(b) until February
1934. As a close associate of Stalin, he actually controlled Kosior, First
Secretary of the CP(b)U, who had lost Stalin's confidence. Ostensibly ensuring
the fulfillment of grain procurement plans, Postyshev actually helped organize
the Holodomor and played a decisive role in suppressing the national deviation
within the CP(b)U.
An important role in precipitating the Holodomor was assigned to the law
enforcement and punitive agencies acting on the Kremlin's orders. By the
Politburo's decision of the CC of the AUCP(b) of 24 November 1932, OGPU Deputy
Chief V. Balytskiy was appointed to the position of Extraordinary
Representative of the OGPU in Ukraine. He arrived in Kharkiv at the beginning
of December 1932 and soon thereafter assumed his position as chief of the GPU of
the Ukr.SSR, which had been previously held by Stalin's distant relative, S.
The republic's activists who participated in implementing the Holodomor
included S. Kosior, First Secretary of the CC of the CP(b)U; V. Chubar,
Chairman of the CPC of the UkrSSR; H. Petrovskiy, head of the All-Ukrainian
Central Executive Committee; and the first secretaries of the regional
committees of the CP(b)U - in particular, M. Khatayevych, Ye. Veher, R.
Terekhov, V. Strohanov, M. Mayorov, S. Sarkisov, and N. Alekseyev. These officials
ensured that the Holodomor was carried out by leaders at the lower levels.
Furthermore, the top officials of the republic's leadership were incorporated into
the higher Party bodies of the USSR. Thus, S. Kosior had been a member of the
Politburo of the CC of the AUCP(b) since 1930; V. Chubar - an associate member
of the Politburo of the CC of the AUCP(b) in 1926-1935; H. Petrovskiy - a
member of the CC of the AUCP(b) in 1921-1939, and an associate member of the
Politburo of the CC of the AUCP(b).
The structure of the upper level of the machinery for implementing the
Holodomor made it possible to effectively control the activity of the
republic's leaders and ensure their unconditional execution of the will of the
The Holodomor was orchestrated by a group of persons who belonged to the
highest echelons of the "party state." It was a joint criminal
enterprise with a clearly structured hierarchical chain of command and
coordination, and consciously used the party state to involve a wide variety of
others in its criminal activities.
A distinctive feature of this criminal group was its obviously multi-ethnic
character. The leading roles in ideology, planning, organizing and
implementation of the crime were performed by a non-Ukrainian team composed of
Stalin, Kaganovich, Molotov, Postyshev, Mikoyan, Kosior, Balytskiy,
Khatayevych, Veher, Terek-hov, Redens and others.
The GPU, which was headed by V. Balytskiy, consisted mainly of
non-Ukrainians and among its top leadership there were no Ukrainians at all.
It should be acknowledged that there were ethnic Ukrainian participants - in
particular, leaders at the republic level, although they did not play key roles
in adopting and implementing decisions. These included V. Chubar, H.
Petrovskiy, V. Zatonskiy and others, as well as numerous local accomplices.
For the most part, the lowest tiers included members from the poorest strata
of rural society who shared the ideas of Bolshevism and consciously supported
the local authorities in implementing plans for the building of a "bright
communist future." However, there were also many who belonged to the rural
lumpenprole-tariat, which the communist regime deliberately used as an instrument
of the crime. Driven by feelings of envy towards the wealthy and a desire for
vengeance, such people used the opportunity to prove to themselves and to the
regime their own importance and survived at the expense of their fellow
It is necessary to write about this, not only for the sake of telling the
historical truth and relating the specifics and distinctive features of the
crime, but because certain researchers, politicians and political scientists
are either reluctant or simply refuse to qualify the Ukrainian Holodomor as the
crime of genocide, due to the multi-ethnic composition of its perpetrators and,
in particular, the participation of ethnic Ukrainians.
Such an approach is legally groundless. Neither national nor international
criminal law makes the ethnicity of the perpetrator a condition precedent to
the commission of a crime. The crime of genocide is not and should not be an
exception to this fundamental rule.
The 1948 Convention provides no basis for linking the crime of genocide to
the ethnicity of persons who participated in the crime. Article IV of the
Convention only stipulates: "Persons committing genocide or any of the
other acts enumerated in article III shall be punished, whether they are
constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private
The ethnic composition of the participants in the crime of genocide is
therefore legally irrelevant and does not affect the qualifying of concrete
unlawful actions as the crime of genocide.
Such methods of denying the genocidal nature of the Ukrainian Holodomor are
immoral as they deliberately distort the clear and unambiguous provisions of
the 1948 Convention. In effect, this is tantamount to a justification of the
Guilt and Healing
Qualifying the Holodomor of 1932-1933 as the crime of genocide also raises
the issue of responsibility. From a legal point of view, this responsibility
rests with the USSR as the party state, and with all persons who participated
in organizing and commiting this crime, regardless of their position, status,
or ethnic origin.
The party state ceased to exist with the collapse of the USSR. All of the
former union republics had become its successor states. However, the Russian
Federation, contrary to international law, has declared itself to be the
"state continuator of the USSR." In any case, Ukraine has repeatedly
stated that it does not link recognition of the Holodomor as genocide with the
international responsibility of the Russian Federation. Ukraine will therefore
make no claims in that regard. Of course, this does not preclude individuals -
the descendants of Holodomor victims - from claiming against the Russian
Federation as it considers itself the state continuator of the USSR. However,
in practical terms the successful realization of such claims would be
The terrible circumstances of the crime make it impossible to state the
exact number of victims and, in many cases, to determine their identities. It
would also be very difficult to find witnesses for concrete cases, as the crime
was committed several decades ago. Finally, one should also take into account
the jurisdictional difficulties associated with the fact that perpetrators of
the crime at the republic level were officials of the Ukr.SSR, who in many
cases acted on their own initiative and in compliance with the republic's
legislative and regulatory acts. However, it must be remembered that the
Ukr.SSR, as a constituent republic of the USSR, was subordinated to the
"party state" dictatorship.
It is relatively simpler to establish the responsibility of the main organizers
and perpetrators of the crime at both the union and republic levels. However,
their punishment would be impossible because some of them - in particular,
Stalin, Kaganovich, and Molotov - died natural deaths. By far the larger part -
among them, Kosior, Chubar, Postyshev, Balytskiy, Redens, and Khatayevych, and
heads of all regional committees of the CP(b)U - were eliminated during
Stalin's purges. It is rather ironic that this larger group was punished, but
not for their participation in the Holodomor.
It should be noted that the various ethnic affiliations of the ideologists,
organizers, participants, perpetrators and accomplices of the Holodomor cannot,
of course, be used to accuse their respective peoples - Georgians, Russians,
Jews, Poles, Latvians and others - of having a role in the crime.
In political terms, responsibility for the Holodomor-genocide in Ukraine and
the extermination of peasants by famine elsewhere in the USSR should rest with
Stalin's communist regime. This explains why representatives and followers of
the Communist Party of Ukraine, which is the ideological successor to the
AUCP(b) and then CPSU, attempts to deny the genocidal nature of the Ukrainian Holodomor,
and often denies that there was even famine in the former USSR.
Russian Federation officials have actively opposed international
recognition of the Ukrainian Holodomor as the crime of genocide. This is not
surprising, given that the principal organizer of the crime, Stalin, is
regarded today by Russia's ruling elite as a "strong politician" and
"successful manager." What is surprising and incomprehensible,
however, is that recognition of the Holodomor as genocide is viewed by various
officials of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an insult to the memory
of the victims in other regions of the former USSR.
Qualifying the Ukrainian Holodomor as a crime of genocide should not be
taken as a denial of the criminal nature of the actions of Stalin's regime
against the peasants of Russia, Byelorussia, Kazakhstan, Bashkortostan and
others. Ukraine does not oppose honoring the memory of those victims, nor is it
against condemning the other crimes of Stalinism. In fact, the real insult to
the memory of those victims is not the position taken by Ukraine, but the
glorification of the person most responsible for the crimes of the communist
The Russian political establishment's hysterical reaction to historical
truth can be easily explained. The revelation about the causes of the Holodomor
and its consequences undermine the position of anti-Ukrainian elements in both
Ukraine and abroad, and calls for action aimed at strengthening national
statehood, developing democratic institutions, and moving further towards Ukraine's
integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures.
The majority of the Russian political establishment still regards Ukraine as
a part of Russia, sharing with it a common history and fate. Hence, the Russian
leadership wishes to impose on Ukraine and the world its own version of
Ukrainian history. Denying Ukraine the right to its own history is a covert
form of denying its right to independence.
It is now obvious that the underlying causes of the Holodomor were rooted in
Ukraine's loss of independence and its domination by a regime subordinated to
the Kremlin leadership and hostile to its nationhood. This fact alone should
expressly warn Ukraine about the deadly threat to its statehood by neo-imperialistic
plans for the restoration of a "Unified Greater Russia" that includes
Ukraine. The strategies for building the new Russian empire openly proclaim
the slogan "Russia needs a Russian Ukraine rather than a pro-Russian
Ukraine." Hypothetically, there are at least three possible options for
implementing such strategies:
1) by the genocide of the Ukrainian national group as such;
2) by linguocide, i.e., by eradicating the language of the Ukrainian nation
as its basic and defining feature, which is tantamount to the final and complete
destruction of the nation itself; or
3) by the cumulative application of these instruments of national destruction.
In this connection, one must remember that, except for very short periods,
the entire history of the tsarist and Soviet empires was one of a continuous
war for the eradication of the Ukrainian language. During the Holodomor,
Ukrainianization was terminated and the attack on the Ukrainian renaissance and
language was launched.
This attack did not even
stop after Ukraine restored its independence, but has only acquired newer,
larger, and more treacherous forms. This is evidenced by the intense
linguo-cultural expansion currently being carried out by the Russian Federation
in relation to Ukraine, which is essentially a covert form of linguocide. Should
the Russian neo-empire be restored with the inclusion of Ukraine, it is
unlikely, however, that mass killing of Ukrainians will take place. Because in
the growing demographic crisis in Russia, the need for human resources is
acutely felt and this will only continue for many years to come. However, there
can be no doubt that the linguocide aimed at wiping out the Ukrainian nation
wffi become a reality. The persecution and elimination of the Ukrainian elite will
be an integral part of this scenario.
The tragedy of the
Holodomor should compel one to resolutely oppose the Kremlin's
neo-imperialistic plans. This may also explain why the revelation and
dissemination of the historical truth about the Ukrainian Holodomor has met
with such rejection and opposition on the part of official Russia.
James Mace concluded that
the Holodomor left Ukrainian society in a state of post-genocidal trauma. To a
considerable degree, this remains true today. Therefore the immediate task is
to politically condemn the crimes of Stalin's totalitarian communist regime. This
should be accompanied by an official legal assessment of the Holodomor, a
systematic study of its devastating consequences, and the undertaking of
comprehensive measures for the revival of the Ukrainian nation, the
rehabilitation of Ukrainian society and the democratic development of an
independent Ukrainian state.
Such measures, however,
should not be situational in nature, nor applied only on commemorative dates. Rather,
they should be implemented on a continuous, systematic basis at the national and
regional levels. The first steps in this direction are being made by the
Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance but they are obviously not
In order to resolve the
large scale and complex issues associated with overcoming the consequences of
the tragedy, the General Prosecutor's Office of Ukraine should, first of all,
initiate criminal proceedings for the genocidal murder of millions of people
under Ukraine's Law "On the Holodomor of 1932-33"; Criminal Code, article
442; and Code of Criminal Procedure, articles 94, 97, and 112 (part 3). If
established facts related to the Holodomor meet the corpus delicti of genocide
as defined in article 442 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, the General
Prosecutor's Office of Ukraine should then prepare an official indictment and
submit it to the Supreme Court of Ukraine for further action.
At the same time, the
Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
should establish an interim investigatory commission in accordance with the Constitution
of Ukraine, Article 89 (Part 4), to conduct a parliamentary inquiry into all of
the circumstances surrounding the Holodomor of 1932-33 as the gravest of
international crimes and a tragic event of great significance to Ukrainian
society. Such steps would not require the resolutions of international
organizations. Current Ukrainian legislation and the political will to do so
In this connection, it
should be noted that article VI of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and
Punishment of the Crime of Genocide provides that the prosecution of this crime
should be carried out by a competent court of the state on the territory of
which it was committed, or by an international criminal tribunal whose
jurisdiction is recognized by the parties to the Convention. According to the
generally recognized rules of international law, corroborated by the 1998
Statute of Rome of the International Criminal Court, cases of international
crimes may only be submitted to the international judicial bodies when a state
on the territory of which such crimes were committed is unable or unwilling to
conduct an investigation, establish the identity of the alleged perpetrators,
indict and put them on trial.
investigation into all of the circumstances of the Holodomorand its official
qualification in Ukraine will create a convincing and solid legal and factual
basis for wide international recognition and condemnation of the genocidal
nature of this terrible crime.