Global Voices Online
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Kyiv, Nov. 25: Remembering Holodomor (Famine) Victims - by Veronica Khokhlova
At the Holodomor Remembrance ceremony held in Kyiv on Saturday, Nov. 25, a big board listed the countries that have recognized the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-33 as genocide: Australia, Argentina, Georgia, Estonia, Italy, Canada, Lithuania, Poland, USA, Hungary. Next to the list was a question: "[What about] Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada [the parliament]???"
It didn't take long for the Rada to follow suit: on Tuesday, 233 out of 450 PMs voted in favor of the bill (UKR) recognizing the Soviet-era man-made famine, which took millions of lives, as genocide against the Ukrainian people. Not a single Communist PM took part in the vote, and only two members of prime minister Victor Yanukovych's parliamentary faction (186 seats) supported the bill.
As hundreds of other Ukrainians, LJ user eagle_x came to Kyiv's Mykhailivska Square on Saturday to light a candle in honor of the Holodomor's dead. He posted photos from the mournful ceremony - here and here - and discussed the subject of Holodomor with two LJ users from Russia.
On Nov. 24, LJ user l_mel of Moscow asked (RUS) eagle_x about the meaning of a Ukrainian-language note he posted on his blog as a reminder that Nov. 25 was to be marked as Holodomor Remembrance Day :
l_mel: ? What`s this? [sic]
eagle_x: In 1932-33, the Soviet regime starved to death about 4 million people in Ukraine, and until the late 1980s it was prohibited to talk about it - otherwise you were sent to Siberia... The day to remember all the innocent dead is the 25th of this month - tomorrow, that is...
l_mel: Well, yes, I'm aware of this! There are also rumors that your current president intends to accuse Russia of genocide... IMHO, it wouldn't be too smart of him.
eagle_x: Hmmm... This is the first time I hear about it... No one is accusing anyone of anything... It's just that Putin and those with him don't want to admit the fact and are denying everything... I don't understand how he benefits from it...
Maybe Putin is ashamed to admit that the Soviet authorities of the time were transporting food over to Russia? or that they didn't let the train cars filled with grain in (aid from Europe)?.. It's all strange... What does Putin have to do with the Soviet authorities of that time and with Stalin? [...]
It's still making me shudder when I think of my great-grandmother and other elderly people talk about those gloomy times with tears in their eyes... How they managed to survive... :( Because of hunger, people were eating one another...
l_mel: A popular opinion here is that Yushchenko is bent on accusing Russia of the genocide of the Ukrainian people. But I'll agree with this: both Putin and Yushchenko should admit that WE shared one country then (and now and forever). But the government was different: radically different from the current one. And to compare the Soviet regime with the current one (and especially with the current Russian one) - is really way too much! But you see, if Putin begins to recognize this fact just a little bit, then the Ukrainian side will really have the reason to accuse our country of genocide. Because this is politics [...]. And you are aware, I guess, what an official genocide charge means: it's a significant addition to the Ukrainian budget from the Russian pockets. And not from oil or aluminum, but from the ordinary people [...]. And (now, obviously, separated forever) [your side and our side] will only hate each other more. [...]
eagle_x: I don't think that adequate, reasonable people of the two coutnries would be accusing each other - this is "one." I'll reveal (or maybe it's not news to you) that our Yushch is soft :) he won't have the courage to accuse anyone - this is "two". I hope you remember that Stalin was an ethnic Georgian? Maybe we should accuse Georgia of genocide as well? :)))))))... - this is "three." I don't think there'll ever be reparation demands... Most of the real culprits of this cruel extermination are already dead and many have been left in obscurity... [...] And the moral of this is that the dead are not going to rise in order to demand some compensations - and not a single compensation is going to bring them back... Their memory should be honored with silence and a candle... And history's lessons should be remembered always and not allowed to happen again, neither at [your side, nor at ours].
LJ user loop83, a native of Krasnodar, liked eagle_x's photos, but not the reality depicted on them:
loop83: What, were you afraid of the Soviet regime in the past ten years, too? What, have you just remembered?! To show off and incite interethnic hatred by exploiting such a sacred thing as the memory of the dead... [...]
I've received an objective education in politology. And I'm not inclined to defend [...] anyone, but in 1930-32, not only Ukrainians were starving to death.
eagle_x: And who else? I think they are also honoring their dead on a certain remembrance day...
By the way, even in the Soviet times, quietly, at night to avoid getting arrested and sent off to Siberia, relatives and those who cared gathered at graves of those who died of hunger... They brought flowers, candles, and prayed... They also planted lilac and snowball trees to mark the burial sites and not to forget the tragedy...
And one more "by the way" - about inciting interethnic hatred... While I was there, I didn't hear anyone say anything about Russia or its citizens... Mainly, I only heard the old women talk about how people were swelling from hunger and dying... And they were also telling about mothers who were either killing their children or themselves... Or how to make pancakes out of [inedible grass]... And how [soldiers] would come and were taking the house apart, looking for some negligible particles of food to be taken away... I don't know what they are telling you over there, but I think it's not the right thing...
And some more on showing off: I think that a remembrance day isn't some showing-off action... People used to come in great numbers to the Holodomor Victims Memorial to honor the dead without hiding... And that the President was there as well - it shows that in our country it's not that bad yet... Extermination of millions of people isn't like mourning one person - it's HORROR!!! Maybe you want to repeat your words to the old women who are still alive, who survived that and lost their relatives?