Ukraine to probe whether 1932 famine was genocide
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine plans to open a formal investigation into a Soviet-era famine that killed millions of people to see if it can prove the famine was an act of genocide.
The 1932-33 famine was engineered by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin to force peasants to give up their private plots of land and join collective farms.
Ukraine, which has rich farmland, suffered the most of all Soviet regions and President Viktor Yushchenko has led efforts to win international recognition of the tragedy as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian nation.
In 2006, the Ukrainian parliament declared the famine a genocide. Vladislav Verstyuk, deputy head of the government's Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, said Thursday that prosecutors and the state security service will now seek to prove that in court.
Historians are divided on whether "death by hunger" — or "Holodomor" as it is known here — was an act of genocide.
Some are convinced the famine targeted Ukrainians as an ethnic group. Others argue authorities set out to eradicate private landowners as a social class and say the Soviet Union sought to pay for its rapid industrialization with grain exports at the expense of starving millions.
The probe is likely to anger neighboring Russia, which insists the famine was not genocide because Russians and other ethnic groups also suffered.
Verstyuk said the investigation is not aimed at extracting compensation from Russia, the Soviet Union's legal successor.
"What matters for us is to condemn Stalin's regime and those who surrounded him," Verstyuk said.
Estimates of the number of people who perished differ wildly. Yushchenko estimates up to 10 million Ukrainians died, while Stanislav Kulchitsky, a Ukrainian historian, believes 3.5 million perished.
Candace: There was so many more groups of people that perished during that whole mess from 1900 on, than ever perished in the LABOR camps housing Jews during WW2. The more accurate count on the Jewish camps was no more than 300,000, mostly near the end of the war, do to disease and lack of food.