U.S. delegation to attend Holodomor events in Ukraine
The delegation will be led by the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine
U.S. President George Bush has named a delegation to attend events in Ukraine on Saturday marking the 75th anniversary of the Stalin-era famine known as the Holodomor, according to RIA Novosti.
The delegation will be led by the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor, Jr., and include Marilyn Ware, the former ambassador to Finland and Lorne Craner, the president of the International Republican Institute, the White House said in a press release on Thursday.
Kyiv has been seeking international recognition of the Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people, and the issue has become a sore point in relations with Russia.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has declined to attend the events, saying in a letter to his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yushchenko last week that Kyiv had used the famine to drive a wedge between Ukraine and Russia. He also urged efforts to forge a common position on the tragedy.
"Ukraine has been using the tragic events of the early 1930s to achieve its political ends," Medvedev said.
At a Holodomor event on Wednesday, Yushchenko said "Ukraine does not blame any nation or state for the great famine."
"The totalitarian Communist regime" was to blame, he said.
Nationalist groups in ex-Soviet Ukraine have insisted Russia, as legal successor to the former Soviet Union, must be responsible for the tragedy and have demanded compensation.
The famine was caused by forced collectivization. Estimates as to the amount of victims in Ukraine vary greatly, with some 2 million being the lower end of the scale. British historian Robert Service has suggested that some 14 million people lost their lives.
Russia says the famine cannot be considered an act that targeted Ukrainians, as millions of people from different ethnic groups lost their lives at that time in vast territories in the North Caucasus, the Volga region, central Russia, Kazakhstan, west Siberia, and the south Urals.