The issue of famine in Ukraine in 1930s

Millions of Ukrainians died of starvation in the beginning of 1930s in what is believed now was an artificially organised by the communist regime famine. It weird to read about this nowadays, but that was one of the cruelest ways of bringing the country under control, that was apparently considered acceptable by the communists.

Ukraine is now trying to bring up this issue, calling it genocide as it was one of the tabooed themes and Russians tried to keep it low, talking rather about mass repressions, because there are some indicators that show, in the famine of 1932-33 specifically ethnic Ukrainians were targeted. 

Besides obvious humanitarian reasons behind bringing up this issue, in my point of view there are also some more subtle political reasons as well. The famine is basically one of the nation-building hot-spots, that are to define Ukrainian national identity, in Ukrainian case the main challenge that is almost equal to revealing and strengthening the differences between Ukrainians and Russians.

In response Russian State’s Duma adopted a special declaration 2 April 2008, that admits the famine, but opposes the view that Ukrainians were targeted specifically on ethnic basis. The declaration says that the famine was spread in other regions of USSR as well. 

The good thing about this declaration is that a Russian state body admits: that the famine was artificially organised by the ruling communist party and that 7 million people died as a result (many historians think the number was 10 million or so).

It is sad, that if Ukraine did not bring up this issue high into political agenda, Russian parliament would not remember about the famine at all. As couple of years ago Putin called USSR’s disbandment in 1991 “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the XX century” Russian state is very reluctant nowadays to talk about communism’s crimes.

As the past is not dealt with properly in Russia, it haunts the country and contributes to the degradation into another type of authoritarian rule that Russia currently has under Putin. 


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