Recognition of the Holodomor as Genocide
On December 9, 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Genocide Convention. Soviet Ukraine signed the document in 1949, and in 1954 ratified it.
Article II of Convention states:
“In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group”.
Raphael Lemkin, the author of the word “genocide” and initiator of the Genocide Convention, called the destruction of the Ukrainian nation “a classic example of the genocide”. In accordance with the UN Convention, Lemkin considered the following items as an integral part of the genocide against Ukrainians: starvation of Ukrainian farmers, extermination of Ukrainian intelligentsia and elimination of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
The first legal act in Ukraine which qualified the crime as genocide was the Law “On the Holodomor of 1932–1933 in Ukraine”, passed by the Parliament on November 28, 2006. Article 1 of this document states: “The Holodomor of 1932–1933 in Ukraine is an act of genocide of the Ukrainian people.” The law became a political and legal basis for large-scale official investigation of the 1932–1933 crime of genocide in Ukraine.
The criminal case initiated by the Security Service of Ukraine was guided by standards of both national legislation and the international treaties (especially Art. 9 of the Constitution of Ukraine and Art. 3 of the Criminal Code are part of criminal law.
In addition to UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, of 1948 the lawyers used such international legal acts as the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, dated November 4, 1950, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, dated 1966 and The UN Convention “On the Non-applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity”, dated November 26, 1968.
During the investigation, the intent of the Soviet Union authorities to destroy the Ukrainian nation was proven, which is a priority for recognition of genocidal nature of the crime. The conclusion about the existence of intent to commit genocide and awareness of this can be done with the relevant facts and circumstances. That intention does not have to be clearly stated in the documents or oral expressed in public speeches. It can be argued, based on the facts and circumstances of the crime.
Actions of the Soviet leaders which prove the intent to destroy the part of the Ukrainian nation are as follows:
- imposing of grain procurement quota for Ukraine at such a high level as to make its implementation unrealistic, and meeting them only through force, repressions, and total confiscation of grain and grain reserves;
- “blacklisting” of districts, population centres, collective farms, and village councils, e g. blockading them by military forces, preventing the population from leaving the black-listed areas, authorising the full confiscation of foodstuffs, and prohibiting trading activities;
- isolating Ukrainian territory by armed groups, military units and militia;
- preventing peasants from travelling in search for food, and ban for correspondence;
- imposing of natural fines;
- instituting constant searches and confiscation of grain, sowing reserves, clothing, all foodstuffs, and cooked food;
- strengthening of criminal repressions, including execution of people who resisted to the authorities during the confiscation of meat, potatoes, sunflower seeds, and other foodstuffs.
Resolution of the court found it established that the Holodomor 1932–1933 in Ukraine:
- was planned to suppress the Ukrainian national liberation movement and prevent the creation of an independent Ukrainian state;
- was committed by violent seizure of all food from Ukrainian farmers and deprivation of access to food, by artificially created life conditions that led to the physical destruction of the part of the Ukrainian national base – Ukrainian farmers (at that time, the vast majority of farmers in Ukraine were Ukrainians, and the vast majority of Ukrainians were farmers);
- was made as one of the stages of the raid against the Ukrainian national group as such, because Ukrainian nation, not the ethnic minorities was the subject of state building and self-determination that could realize its the right to self-determination, mentioned of the Constitution of the USSR of 1924, by the exit from Soviet Union and establishing an independent Ukrainian state;
- was organized by the top leadership of the Soviet Communist regime, important and active role in the crime played seven people.
The resolution of the Court of Appeals stated: “The pre-trial investigatory body has fully and comprehensively established the specific intent of J. V. Stalin (Dzhugashvili), V. M. Molotov (Skriabin), L. M. Kaganovich, P. P. Postyshev, S. V. Kossior, V. Ya. Chubar, and M. M. Khatayevich to destroy in part specifically the Ukrainian (and not any other) national group. It has also been objectively proven that this intent applied specifically to a part of the Ukrainian national group as such.” The subject of special attention of the Appeal Court was the question of retroaction of Art. 442 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. Based on the provisions of Art. 7 of the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and Art. 1 of the UN Convention “On the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity”, the court acknowledged that was “there are no legal prohibitions to apply Part. 1, Art. 442 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine in reverse time “action of persons who committed the genocide of 1932–1933 in Ukraine”.
Committing Genocide in Ukraine in 1932-1933 is confirmed by:
- 3456 found and declassified documents of government and the Communist Party, including ones signed by J. V. Stalin;
- 3186 death registration books of 1932–1933, confirming massive loss of population from artificial famine;
- 1730 testimonies of witnesses and victims of criminal acts of the totalitarian regime;
- 857 mass graves where the victims of genocide were buried;
- 735 settlements, collective farms, village councils and regions of Ukraine, where the authorities introduced the regime of “black boards”;
- 400 found and declassified documents of SSU State Archive confirming that the authorities organized artificial famine;
- archival documents of diplomatic missions of foreign states;
- archival documents testifying the mass migration of ethnic Russians in Ukraine;
- photographs that fixed the tragic events of Holodomor.
On bilateral and multilateral levels, Ukraine supports the establishment of historical truth and commemoration of the memory of millions of Ukrainians, which were deliberately killed by Stalin’s regime, by international community.
The problem of the denial of the Holodomor of 1932–1933 in Ukraine as a whole or its denial as a crime of genocide, as well as the problem of denial of many other crimes of genocide, is not new.
Most objections of Holodomor as genocide have been heard from Russia, which is the successor of the Soviet Union. This tendency is worrying for the citizens of Ukraine. Annexation of Crimea and the Russian aggression on the East of Ukraine were preceded by the statements of the Russian Federation about “one nation” of Ukrainians and Russians and non-recognition of Ukrainian nation. All this is a source of concern to the Ukrainians, who survived the genocide.
A world where totalitarianism in various forms still exists, has to know truth about the Holodomor, because this knowledge will avoid such tragedies in the future. As international experience shows, the denial of genocides and their neglect become an extremely dangerous phenomenon that can’t be ignored.