EU recognizes historic Ukraine famine as 'crime'

Europe's Parliament stopped short of labelling the 1923-33, Soviet-era Ukrainian famine a "genocide", but said it had been "cynically and cruelly planned" by Moscow.


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The "artificial" famine that killed millions in Soviet-era Ukraine in 1932-33 was "cynically and cruelly planned" by Moscow, a European Parliament resolution said Thursday.

The European Union's parliament stopped short of labelling the regional outcome of the communist policy of collectivisation of agriculture "genocide," the term used by a 2006 Ukrainian parliament law.

However, its resolution said the deaths of between four and 10 million people, according to census and statistical estimates, were "an appalling crime against the Ukrainian people, and against humanity."

The stance is likely to trigger deep irritation in Moscow, which has in the past argued that drought was a pivotal factor.

The text "strongly condemns these acts, directed against the Ukrainian peasantry, and marked by mass violations of human rights and freedoms."

Expressing sympathy with victims and their families, as well as the last generation of survivors, lawmakers also called on former Soviet states to open up their archives so that "all the causes and consequences" can be studied.

Other areas and their ethnic groupings, including Kazakhstan, were also badly affected by the famine.

The Homodor -- understood as "murder by hunger" in Ukrainian -- has been recognised as genocide by a small number of governments around the world, with Kiev campaigning for years to have the United Nations apply the strict legal definition.

Pro-Russian Ukrainians say it resulted from ideological error, with historians divided as to all the circumstances behind it and the 2006 law in Kiev passed by only a slim majority.

During a 75th anniversary remembrance ceremony in November 2007, pro-Western President Viktor Yuschenko described Russian strongman Joseph Stalin's policy as "an attempt to subjugate the nation, deliberately planned and put into effect.

"Its organiser and executor was the communist totalitarian regime," Yuschenko said, adding that "the crimes of bolshevism and communism are identical to those of Nazism."

The programme of forced collectivisation saw the produce of Ukrainian farmers confiscated with the Soviet authorities also blocking food supplies into Ukraine in what some historians have argued was a deliberate attempt by Stalin to crush a drive for independence.

In his speech, Yushchenko called the famine the "greatest catastrophe" to have struck Ukraine, and urged "world condemnation of communist terror" that had killed innocent people, including Russians, Belarussians and Tartars as well as Ukrainians.

Ukraine finally gained its independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

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