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UKRAINE: HOLODOMOR, Stalin’s artificial famine in Ukraine was a genocide

HOLODOMOR, Stalin’s artificial famine in Ukraine was a genocide (2)

28 countries, the Baltic Assembly, the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recognized Holodomor as a genocide. Putin’s Russia denies.


By Dr Ievgeniia Gidulianova for Human Rights Without Frontiers

HRWF (27.11.2023) – On 25 November, Ukraine celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Holodomor to commemorate those dark times in the early 1930s and our mourning for all the innocent victims of those times.

It was only at the beginning of the perestroika in 1985 that the authorities loosened the reins of censorship and the topic of the Holodomor of 1932-33 began to appear at the highest party level.

The Ukrainian diaspora in Canada and the United States organized an information campaign aimed at recognizing the Holodomor of 1932-33 as an act of genocide. In December 1985, the U.S. Congress created a commission to investigate this crime. The commission included six congressmen and six representatives of Ukrainian NGOs. The head of the commission was James Mace, an American researcher on the history of Ukraine.

During the four years of the commission’s work, documents and testimonies of about 200 witnesses were collected. In 1988, the commission published a report concluding that the Holodomor of 1932-33 in the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic was an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people.

Since mid-1988, the topic of the Holodomor in its scale and resonance has been on a par with Stalin’s repressions and the Chornobyl disaster. For example, translations of chapters of the book “Harvest of Sorrow” were published and the weekly “Ukraine” accepted a  column titled “Along the Paths of Pain and Torment” echoing testimonies about the tragedy.

In the same 1988 year, the newspaper “Silski Visti” made the first attempt in Ukraine to collect eyewitnesses’ memories of the Holodomor. In response to the call, the organizers received six thousand letters, one thousand of which were included in the collection “33: Famine. People’s Book-Memorial”.

After the proclamation of its independence, Ukraine was given the opportunity to conduct a thorough investigation of the Holodomor.

According to the Law of Ukraine, the Holodomor of 1932-1933  was officially recognized as a crime of genocide of the Ukrainian people.

On 22 November 2023, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine issued a Statement in connection with the 90th anniversary of the Holodomor of 1932-33.

This statement draws the attention of parliaments and governments of the world, international organizations, and the international community to the crime of genocide of the Ukrainian people.

The Verkhovna Rada expressed deep gratitude to foreign states and international organizations that recognized the Holodomor in Ukraine as an act of genocide (a total of 28 states, as well as the Baltic Assembly, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe).

The statement states that Ukraine recognizes the large-scale Russian armed aggression against Ukraine as a continuation of Russia’s genocidal imperial policy, the purpose of which is to punish Ukrainians for their desire to build a modern successful democratic state and to be part of the European Union.

Russia, the legal successor of the former USSR, does not even recognize the fact of the Holodomor, as well as it does not recognize the war crimes in Bucha and other territories of Ukraine.

Once again, unpunished genocidal evil is returning to Ukraine.

Photo: Memorial “Candle of Memory” to the National Museum “Memorial to the Victims of the Holodomor in Ukraine”. Photo http://vkieve.net

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UKRAINE: HOLODOMOR, Stalin’s artificial famine in Ukraine 90 years ago today

UKRAINE: HOLODOMOR, Stalin’s artificial famine in Ukraine 90 years ago today (1)

Millions of Ukrainians died

By Dr Ievgeniia Gidulianova for Human Rights Without Frontiers

HRWF (25.11.2023) – In Ukraine, it is not customary to throw away bread. Never.

“Bread is the head of everything” is one of the main Ukrainian proverbs.

And this is not only in gratitude to the fertile plant, which is supposedly born to give the best harvests. This is also a tribute to the difficult times that Ukraine was forced to go through.

This testament is passed down from generation to generation, because the grief through which Ukrainians have been preserved in them almost at the genetic level. The memory of the famine was preserved in the families of those who were able to survive it.

This year, on November 25, Ukraine celebrates Holodomor Remembrance Day. It is a day to commemorate those dark times and the 90th anniversary of our mourning for all the innocent victims of those times.

Available data on the number of victims of the Holodomor give us figures of at least 4.6 million dead. Some researchers point to much higher figures – up to 10.5 million.

This is another sorrowful page of Ukrainian history, when millions of human lives were lost for their struggle on the way to independence and self-reliance.

After the overthrow of the Ukrainian People’s Republic in November 1920, the Bolshevik regime began active actions on its territory to prevent the restoration of an independent Ukrainian state through a brutal repressive policy aimed at establishing a communist system and suppressing any parties and movements that defended the idea of Ukrainian independence.

Stalin Y.V., Molotov V.V., Kaganovich L.M., Postyshev P.P., Kosior S.V., Chubar V.Y. and Khatayevich M.M. used the repressive apparatus of the communist totalitarian regime on the territory of Ukraine in peacetime. A complete forced collectivization of agriculture and the deportation of Ukrainian peasant families, illegal confiscation of their property, repression and physical destruction of Ukrainians were initiated.

All this destroyed the traditional forms of agricultural production and deprived the Ukrainian peasants of the grain reserves necessary for normal life, which caused famine among the Ukrainian population in 1928-1929, after which mass anti-Soviet uprisings began on the territory of the Ukrainian SSR, which were suppressed with particular cruelty by punitive measures.

In order to suppress  the resistance of the Ukrainian people in 1932-1933 in Ukraine, the  communist totalitarian regime of the USSR planned and implemented the crime of exterminating millions of Ukrainians by creating an artificial famine. To denote this tragedy, Ukrainians use the word “Holodomor”, which comes from the Ukrainian words “famine” and “pestilence”. It was the premeditated murder of millions of Ukrainians in order to destroy the social foundations of the Ukrainian people, its age-old traditions, spiritual culture and ethnic identity.

The regime managed to hide its crime behind a wall of propaganda and lies within the USSR and abroad.

“Dead of starvation and people dying near the fence of the Ozeryanskaya Church in Kharkiv.”
Photo from 1933 by Austrian chemical engineer Alexander Wienerberger.

In 1932-33 there was neither a significant drought nor other weather conditions that could lead to crop failure and eventually to mass starvation. Historian Viktor Brekhunenko wrote in his book “ Myths about the Holodomor” that the harvest of 1932 was smaller than the harvest of  1931 (12.8 million tons versus 17.7 million tons). The reason for the decrease in the harvest was the state policy on collectivization but even such a harvest was enough to feed people.

However, famine occurred in Ukraine and in those regions of the USSR where Ukrainians constituted the majority of the population: the Kuban (more than 50% of the population was Ukrainians, according to the 1926 census), some regions of the North Caucasus and the Middle and Lower Volga regions. During these times, there was no famine or crop failure in Ukraine’s neighboring territories, such as Poland and Belarus. But it was impossible for Ukrainians dying of hunger to get there,  as the USSR closed the borders to Ukrainian peasants.

Victims of famine. Kharkiv region, 1933. Photo courtesy of Alexander Wienerberge

As a first step, the Communist leaders planned unrealistic grain procurement figures, as they planned to take 53% from the 1932 harvest, although in 1931 this figure was 39%. And this was in conditions when it was quite clear that such actions would cause hunger.

The unrealistic grain procurement plan of 1932 was not fulfilled. Consequently, on 1 December 1932, it was decided to seize grain and other products from the peasants. Later, in January 1933, in order to implement the plan, the Kyiv Regional Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine demanded “all available grain, including the so-called seed funds,” that is, the grain that should be sown in the spring.

Peasants stopped paying “workdays”, a payment in kind in the form of farm products for work on the collective farm. As a result, all the food was taken away from the peasants. At the same time, Stalin considered the impossibility of reaching the grain norm to be a “war against Soviet power” and the peasants were persecuted as enemies of the state.

From January-February 1932, grain began to be taken away in Ukraine and, accordingly, entire villages began to starve.*

On 15 January 1932, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine adopted a resolution titled “The Question of Grain Procurement”, according to which control over the activities of the regional leadership during the seizure of grain was strengthened.

Methods of grain requisition became more and more cruel. Collective farms, which were thus left without grain, were officially denied seed assistance. At the same time, a method of repression called “Black Boards” was actively used. Some villages (collective farms) for non-fulfillment of plans for the transfer of grain to the state ended up on the “black board” (they were published in newspapers and documents).

At that time, they stopped importing food and goods and the existing goods were exported. The exits from the villages were guarded by domestic troops, not letting the inhabitants out and hereby condemning them to starvation. At the same time, the search for enemies of the authorities continued. The repression was harsh. People were expelled from their homes, all their property was taken away and they were sent into exile or shot.

Analysis of 20,000 cases, conducted by N.A. Ivnitsky in his work “The Repressive Policy of the Soviet Government in the Countryside (1928-1933) (The University of Toronto (Canada) shows that 83 percent of the prisoners were people from collective farms and individual peasants, and only 15 percent were “kulak-wealthy elements.”

Places of mass starvation were guarded by military border guards. It was impossible to buy railway tickets and people were not allowed into the cities.

On 29 March 1932, the decree “On Polissya” increased repression of peasants in the Ukrainian SSR.  A first group of 5000 families from the districts of Polissya were deported to especially created settlements for the development of stone and clay quarries. In addition, the deportation of another 5,000 families from Ukraine was also decided and implemented.

On 7 August 1932, Stalin and Kaganovich organized the adoption by the Central Executive Committee (CEC) and the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR of the resolution “On the Protection of the Property of State Enterprises, Collective Farms, and Cooperatives and the Strengthening of Public (Socialist) Property,” which introduced executions, confiscation of property, and prohibited the use of amnesty.

This law was popularly called the “Law of Five Ears of Grain“. It even covered cases when starving peasants tried to collect grains in the field that were accidentally left after harvesting. Even children were punished. As early as 14 September, the People’s Commissariat of Justice of the Ukrainian SSR testified about 250 death sentences in a memorandum.

On 25 October, the Plenum of the Central Committee of the CP(b)U adopted the Resolution of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CP(b)U “On the Need to Overcome the Country’s Lag in the Fulfillment of the Grain Requisition Plan.”

It ordered the party organizations to achieve an immediate change in grain procurements and operational management of grain procurements, to organize a “struggle for bread”, to make November and the last days of October decisive for the implementation of the grain requisition plan, to implement the annual plan ten times faster by the 15th anniversary of the October Revolution.

It advised “ruthlessly suppressing all attempts of the class enemy and its agents aimed at disrupting grain procurements.” As early as November 1932, the Molotov Commission introduced a system of special brigades for grain requisition.

The tragedy of the Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine was officially denied by the Soviet authorities for many decades, and those who raised this issue were severely punished.

(*) At the same time, it should be noted that while Ukrainian peasants were starving, as of May 1933,  2.7 million tons of grain from the 1932 harvest had been exported through seaports. As a result, Ukraine fulfilled the plan for the supply of grain for export by 97%.


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AZERBAIJAN: Anti-corruption journalists detained for four months

Azerbaijani anti-corruption journalists Ulvi Hasanli and Sevinj Vagifgizi detained for 4 months

The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Azerbaijani authorities to release Abzas Media director Ulvi Hasanli and chief editor Sevinj Vagifgizi and to disclose the whereabouts of Hasanli’s assistant, Mahammad Kekalov, who has been missing since Monday. 

A district court in the capital of Baku on Tuesday ordered that Hasanli and Vagifgizi remain in custody for four months on charges of conspiring to bring money into the country unlawfully, Abzas Media reported. If found guilty, they face up to eight years in prison under Article 206.3.2 of Azerbaijan’s criminal code.

Individuals in plainclothes who did not identify themselves took Kekalov from his home in Baku on Monday along with his laptop and cell phone, according to news reports and a source familiar with the case who spoke to CPJ on condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal. As of Tuesday evening, Kekalov’s whereabouts remained unknown.

“The remand terms handed to Ulvi Hasanli and Sevinj Vagifgizi only serve to underline authorities’ real goal, which is to silence Abzas Media’s bold anti-corruption reporting,” said CPJ Advocacy and Communications Director Gypsy Guillén Kaiser, in New York. “Azerbaijani authorities should release Vagifgizi and Hasanli immediately, provide information on Mahammad Kekalov’s whereabouts, and allow Abzas Media to continue its vital public interest reporting.”

Police arrested Hasanli on Monday, November 20, raided his apartment, and searched the Baku office of independent investigative website Abzas Media, where they said they found 40,000 Euros (US$43,770). Officers took a computer, cell phone, iWatch, and hard disk from the apartment and confiscated a microphone and hard disk from the office, Zibeyda Sadygova, the journalist’s lawyer, told CPJ.

Police arrested Vagifgizi at Baku airport at 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday as she returned from a work trip abroad and searched her home.

Hasanli and Vagifgizi have denied the charges, calling them retaliation for Abzas Media’s investigations into alleged corruption by relatives of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and state officials. Hasanli said he believes police planted the money in order to fabricate a case, according to a video posted by Abzas Media.

Abzas Media is one of a handful of independent outlets that remain in the country following a series of raids, arrestsand criminal investigations against independent media and press freedom groups since 2014.

In 2021, Vagifgizi was one of several Azerbaijani journalists whose phones were found to be compromised by Pegasus, spyware produced by the Israeli company NSO Group. Hasanli’s name was also on a leaked list of individuals targeted with Pegasus, according to the global investigative network Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

CPJ’s emails to the Baku Police Department and the Ministry of Internal Affairs did not receive any replies.

Photo credits: YouTube/AzadliqRadiosu

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RUSSIA: 10.5- and 9.5-year prison sentences for two journalists

10.5- and 9.5-year prison sentences for two journalists

CPJ (17.11.2023—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the 10.5- and 9.5-year prison sentences issued to journalists Aleksandr Dorogov and Yan Katelevskiy, respectively, on Friday, and called on Russian authorities to release them immediately and not oppose their appeal. 

“CPJ strongly condemns the lengthy sentences imposed on Russian journalists Yan Katelevskiy and Aleksandr Dorogov, who have already spent more than three years behind bars on fabricated charges,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. “Russian authorities should not contest Dorogov and Katelevskiy’s appeal, release them immediately, and stop jailing independent voices.”

On Friday, a court in Lyubertsy, in the Moscow region, convicted Dorogov, co-deputy chief editor of independent investigative website Rosderzhava, on two counts—extortion committed by a group of persons and extortion in order to obtain property on a particularly large scale— and sentenced him to 10.5 years in prison. The same court convicted Katelevskiy, co-deputy chief editor of Rosderzhava, on one count of extortion and sentenced him to 9.5 years in prison

Yevgeny Kurakin, chief editor of Rosderzhava, told CPJ that the journalists plan to appeal. In October, the state prosecutor had requested a 12-year sentence for Dorogov and 10 years for Katelevskiy. 

The extortion charges stem from a May 21, 2020, complaint filed by a traffic officer, who alleged that he paid Dorogov and Katelevskiy 1.3 million rubles (US$14,400) to stop them from making videos about him, according to human-rights news website OVD-Info. The two journalists had previously published YouTube videos on their channels mocking and criticizing the officer.

The journalists repeatedly denied the charges and claimed that their persecution stems from their investigative work, in particular their joint investigation into alleged corruption between funeral businesses and senior police officials, published on the YouTube account Dvizhenie, which investigates corruption and irregularities by the road police and has about 613,000 subscribers.

Dorogov and Katelevskiy have been in pretrial detention since July 2020, when they were arrested and beaten by police.  

CPJ’s email to the Lyubertsy City Court did not receive a response. Russia has imprisoned at least 19 journalists, including Dorogov and Katelevskiy, as of December 1, 2022, when CPJ conducted its most recent prison census.

Photo credits: YouTube/RusNews

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ALGERIA: New prison sentence for journalist Mustapha Bendjama

New prison sentence for Algerian journalist Mustapha Bendjama

CPJ (08.11.2023) – The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the additional six-month prison sentence issued to Algerian journalist Mustapha Bendjama on Tuesday, November 7.

“Imposing a new prison sentence on journalist Mustapha Bendjama just when he was due to be released shows how determined the Algerian government is to keep independent journalists behind bars,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “Algerian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Bendjama, drop all charges against him, and ensure that journalists in the country can work freely without fear of imprisonment.”

On November 7, a court in the eastern city of Constantine sentenced Bendjama, editor-in-chief of local independent news website Le Provincial, to six months in prison for “committing an illegal immigration crime” for allegedly helping French Algerian journalist Amira Bouraoui flee to France earlier this year, according to news reports. Bouraoui, who is banned from traveling outside of Algeria, denied that Bendjama had any connection to her traveling out of the country.

Bendjama has been in custody since police arrested him on February 8 from his office in Annaba, in northeast Algeria. On August 29, a court sentenced him to two years in prison on charges of receiving foreign funding to commit acts against public order and publishing classified information in a separate case.

On October 26, a Constantine court reduced Bendjama’s two-year sentence to 20 months – eight months in prison and 12 months suspended, meaning he would be released immediately, according to news reports. Instead, Bendjama was held in custody and convicted again on November 7.   

CPJ emailed the Algerian Ministry of Interior for comment but did not receive any response.

Photo courtesy of Mustapha Bendjama


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