MEPs to call for recognition of Ukraine famine as genocide
The famine is said to have taken the lives of up to 10 million people
The parliament`s EPP group is set to raise a controversial resolution that would recognise the Soviet-enforced famine in Ukraine as genocide, according to EUPolitix.
The famine, or holodomor (from the Ukrainian ‘execution by hunger’) was discussed in the Strasbourg plenary in October, when Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko met with parliament`s president Hans-Gert Pöttering.
This year is the 75th anniversary of holodomor and according to Portuguese EPP deputy José Ribeiro e Castro, "it is more than necessary that the European parliament pass a text during this anniversary, as a sign of friendship with the Ukrainians."
Although historians differ on the figure, the famine is said to have taken the lives of at least three million people, and up to 10 million, during 1932-33, after the Soviet regime seized crops from Ukrainian peasants to raise money for industrialisation.
The recognition of holodomor has widespread and growing support among EPP deputies, including the UK’s Charles Tannock.
"What happened in Ukraine was a monumental massacre. It was not just an ethnic cleansing in the sense of genocide, but also resulted in wiping out a social class of people."
Last March a written declaration was initiated by Tannock with Marek Siwiec and Konrad Szymanski for the international recognition of holodomor as genocide. The declaration didn’t receive the majority of parliamentary signatures it needed to pass.
According to Tannock, a written declaration requires an enormous amount of support, and this issue is unlikely to gain the required amount because it’s such a specialised subject. It is also unlikely to be popular with the Socialists in parliament, as it could be interpreted as hostile towards Russia.
But Marek Siwiek disagrees.
"The condemnation is not directed against Russia but against Stalin.
"It’s a question of the basic truth about history,” Siwiec says. “Facts from Soviet history have not been recognised for some time, but everybody knows that the Ukrainian famine was genocide."
Several countries have already recognised holodomor as an act of genocide, including the US, Canada, Australia, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Lithuania, Georgia, Paraguay and Peru.
President Yushchenko has earmarked 2008 as a national year of holodomor remembrance. He has proposed a bill criminalising the denial of both holodomor and the Holocaust, and has revealed plans for a holodomor memorial to be unveiled in autumn 2008.
The EPP is finalising a text to submit at the next parliamentary plenary, with a view to getting a motion for resolution by January next year.