Marco Levytsky for Ukrainian News (Edmonton)
Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s current aggression in Ukraine is a direct result of the genocide committed by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in 1932-33. Not only did Stalin kill millions of Ukrainians through state-enforced hunger, he then replaced them with millions of Russians providing Putin with the claim that eastern Ukraine is Russian land, said Wolodymyr Zarycky of the Center for U.S. – Ukraine Relations in New York, at the 81st Anniversary Commemoration of the Holodomor Genocide, organized by the Edmonton Branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and held at Edmonton’s City Hall, Nov. 22.
“The forces guilty of the crime have never been called out ‘on the mat of history’—they have never been publically castigated. There have been no public trials — and forget about any recompense, or even calls for reconciliation. Only a few tired stabs at Stalinism — “whatever that watered down term might mean” and even that lately has been criticized — given that Stalin was a ‘great wartime leader’,” he said.
“Better still — the guilty forces stand to benefit from the mass murder if those who replaced the East Ukrainians have their way. What do you think is happening in Donbas at this very moment if not that?
“Finally, the guilty forces get to presently and freely express their lingering latent genocidal attitudes. Note old KGB (direct successor to the NKVD) hand Putin in the last several years reiterating to world leaders the same tired saw: ‘Ukraine is not really a country.’
“In short, the Holodomor is a ‘mass murder singularity’ because it is the only one of the great genocides of history whose last chapter has not been written!” Dr Zarycky added.
Referring to a symposium that occurred a year ago in New York, Dr Zarycky cited Dr. Vladyslav Hrynewych who took up the issue of ‘ethnic cleansing’ and provided some very sobering numbers. As late as the mid 1920’s, East Ukraine’s non-Ukrainian population was in the single digits (more precisely: 7 – 9%). During the Holodomor years and in the immediate aftermath, census taking in the USSR disappeared but when the counting re-appeared in the late 1930s and early 1940s, the percentage had risen to 20-22% — and in places like the Donbas. That’s the excuse the Kremlin is now using to claim these as Russian lands
He also referred to a presentation by historian Anne Applebaum who stated that to simply compare the Holodomor with the Holocaust or the Armenian tragedy or the Cambodian ‘Killing Fields’ slaughter, was to narrow the scope of what actually happened in Ukraine; in fact, it was to do Ukraine’s ‘execution by hunger’ an injustice.
“The point was to see additional factors at play — to note that the death of millions was in fact followed by their replacement with a more amenable-pliable population over time (and from the ‘imperial center’ no less). This is what made the Holodomor unique. In essence, we were looking at a primordial-archetypal example of ‘ethnic cleansing’,” he said
Serhiy Kostyuk, President of UCC Edmonton made a similar point, noting that “when Putin sent troops to Ukraine, he and his puppets and Moscow-supported terrorists committing a second genocide against the Ukrainian nation.”
He added that more than 70 % of Ukrainians consider the Holodomor as act of Genocide – a more than 30% increase in the last two years.
“Every third Ukrainian is afraid to be hungry in spite of the rich harvest that Ukrainian soil produces year after year,” said Kostyuk.
Master of Ceremonies was Borys Radyo who noted: “Our ceremony today takes on unique importance in that 25 years ago this month the Berlin wall fell, one year ago Kyiv Maidan rose against corruption, russification and injustice. Allow me to quote from an article written today in Ukrainska Pravda: in the minds of the czars, the Lenins, the Stalins, the Putins, there is no Ukraine and there never will be. The czar’s white army, the Communist Red army, repressions, genocidal famine, millions exiled, millions executed and now they fall upon us with rockets, mortars and tanks. But they don’t know what we know – Ukraine endures, Ukraine was, is and will be! Because we are Nation! That was born and stood in Kyiv more than 1000 years ago! That is the message of Maidan!”
Greetings were delivered by Edmonton-Centre MP Laurie Hawn, on behalf of the federal government, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta Gene Zwozdesky for the province, and Mayor of Edmonton Don Iveson.
The commemoration opened with a Memorial Service conducted b Ukrainian Catholic Bishop David Motiuk and Ukrainian Orthodox Bishop Ilarion Rudnyk with concelebrating clergy from both Churches with responses sung by St. George’s Ukrainian Catholic Church Choir.
The “Ridna Shkola” Ukrainian Heritage Language School (Director Olia Myc), sang a “Prayer for Ukraine”.
Holodomor survivors living in Edmonton were introduced. They included: Peter Horobec, Wira Horobec, Ludmyla Lytviak, Dusia Marych, Raisa Macewko, Marija Prokopchuk, Anastasia Roll, Lena Shewchuk, Natalka Talanchuk and Leonid Korownyk, who recited a poem.
The ceremonies ended with a singing of Ukraine’s national anthem and a laying of wreaths at Edmonton’s Holodomor monument – the first one erected in the world.