President Victor Yushchenko has attended a memorial service near the monument to Les’ Kurbas in Kyiv to honor the victims of the Great Terror of 1937, according to the President`s press-office.

In a speech, Yushchenko said Joseph Stalin and his accomplices were exterminating the Ukrainian nation with “particular meticulousness and on a grand scale.” “These losses are irretrievable. The Ukrainians were being systematically killed on our land,” he said.

He said Ukraine’s intellectuals and statesmen were the “first target” during Stalin’s purges. The regime delivered a fatal blow to Ukraine’s peasants, who had been preserving the nation’s genetic code and had been passing on their values through generations, and then “stabbed Ukraine in the heart” by eliminating its artists and religious leaders, he said. “The atrocities of Stalinism must not and cannot be forgiven.”

“Historical justice, the memory of those innocent people and the truth about them must be restored. The crimes of the totalitarian Communist regime, among them the Great Famine of 1932-1933 and the Great Terror of the 1930s, must be fully condemned by the international community. This is an obligation of all states, political and public forces which adhere to the values of democracy.”

Yushchenko extended condolences on behalf of the people of Ukraine to the Soviet Union’s republics and oppressed neighbors. He said they must “consolidate their efforts to honor the memory of the victims of repression, declassify Soviet archives to learn the true scale of the committed crimes, recognize the intentional nature of the extermination of our nations, explicitly condemn the perpetrators of the terror and guarantee adequate support for the survivors of the terror.” 

The president said he had issued a decree to support those who survived it, welcoming a decision by the Kyiv City Council to name one of the capital’s avenues after Les’ Kurbas. “We must immortalize the names of our nation’s geniuses, heroes and martyrs throughout the country.”

He observed one minute of silence and laid flowers at the Kurbas monument.