Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna, to the 1203rd meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, 22 November 2018
On 24 November Ukrainians throughout the world will light the candles as a symbol of remembrance of the most horrible tragedy in the history of my country, which claimed millions of innocent lives. Those were the victims of the Holodomor of 1932–1933, the man-made famine planned and implemented by the communist Stalin’s regime.
On Saturday the Memorial Day of Holodomor victims will mark the 85th anniversary, with representatives of foreign governments and parliaments, scientists and researchers from across the world taking part in a number of commemorative ceremonies.
Holodomor was recognized by the Ukrainian Parliament as the genocide against the Ukrainian people. For decades this appalling act of inhumanity and an immense national tragedy have been kept a secret by the Soviet Union, vehemently denied by the communist regime and largely unknown to the world. Millions of people, mostly the peasants – the backbone of Ukrainian identity, culture and traditions, within two years were literally starved to death by the policies of Stalin’s regime, who sought submission to the Soviet rule and resolution of the “Ukrainian issue”. The findings of the work carried out by the Institute of demography and social research show that of all the victims 93% were rural residents.
Based on study of available statistics, at the height of Holodomor, Ukrainians died at a rate of 25,000 per day. In the same two years, the Soviet Union sold 1.7 million tons of grain on western markets. We once quoted in the Permanent Council a renowned expert in international criminal law Raphael Lemkin, who researched and developed a concept of genocide, and whose many ideas were incorporated into the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide in 1948, who described the Holodomor as “not simply a case of mass murder but as a case of genocide, of destruction, not of individuals only, but of a culture and a nation”. Based on the facts of this horrible crime that could only be brought to light after Ukraine regained independence, now the overwhelming majority of Ukraine’s population, 79% according to one of the latest surveys, hold the informed view that Holodomor was genocide.
We are concerned that there are ongoing attempts by one country to dismiss facts and deny this horrendous crime of genocide committed by the communist Stalin’s regime against the Ukrainian people.
Despite Russia’s denial of the Holodomor, over the years Ukraine has always felt the support and solidarity of the international community in establishing the truth about one of the greatest crimes against humanity in the world’s history and in paying proper tribute to its victims. National parliaments and regional assemblies in many countries of the world have also recognized Holodomor as genocide.
Mourning millions of innocent victims of Holodomor who were killed by barbaric policy of the Soviet totalitarian regime, we stress the importance of remembrance and maintaining a firm stance in condemning totalitarianism, regardless of the colours it used, and strongly upholding the values of democracy, human rights and freedoms.
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.