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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

No Such Thing as Holodomor, PRU Concurs
Yanukovych Hides in Belarus as Ukraine Commemorates Moscow-Made Famine

In line with the Kremlin’s official policy, the PRU has joined the ranks of Holodomor deniers. On Saturday, when the less-Sovietized, more open-minded Ukrainians mourned the 6 to 10 million victims of the Moscow-made famine, Yanukovych was on a pilgrimage to neighboring Belarus, his fatherland. Tagline: “The Holodomor? Ha ha ha!”

His Soviet ways notwithstanding, Alyaskander Lukashenka, Europe’s last dictator, has rather strained relations with Russia. Ever since Yeltsin passed the black box to Putin, Lukashenka’s wet dream of presiding over a joint state has run dry. Recently, Belarus has become the second “brotherly” country to be slapped by Gazprom with the going "market rate” of $230 for FY 2007. For Belarus’s obsolete Russia-oriented economy, this would be even more a nightmare than for the Ukrainian one, whose alarm bell went off almost a year ago, prompting a modernization effort of sorts.

As an alternative, Gazprom is willing to kindly accept a 50 percent stake in Beltransgas, the state-owned pipeline company. Happy New Year, Belarus! Obviously, Putin views Yanukovych’s Ukraine as more valuable an investment than Lukashenka’s Belarus, for which the expression “Familiarity breeds contempt” aptly applies. That’s why Lukashenka has a heavier headache.

Being fully aware that his showy Sovietism will no longer buy him a free lunch, Luka has shifted gears. He called for closer cooperation on transit fee policy for Russian gas exports to the EU. He minced no words when he said that by acting together Ukraine and Belarus could achieve better results. Luka showed no fear of Puttie, as he threw himself into a ghostbusting crusade against the specter of a gas cartel between Russia, Algeria, and Qatar.

Will Yanukovych jump on the transit cartel idea? Certainly not at this time, having to his credit the $130 deal with Russia — a deal whose geopolitical currency remains the subject of debate, though. In view of the obligations already assumed, Yanukovych will be able to resist Lukashenka’s power of suggestion, dismissing it with “I’ll think about it.”

The Kremlin has always been an aggressive exporter of commodities, whether its own or not. In the 70s and 80s, Siberian oil and gas provided the Evil Empire with the revenues to sustain its military industrial complex and to import consumer goods. In the 30s, Ukrainian grain supplied the lifeblood of Stalin’s industrialization. But for communism to take over, it was never enough. Thus, the breadbasket of Europe became Uncle Joe’s genocide lab.

Why Ukraine, of all places? Collectivization had run aground here, in no small part due to the squeeze industrialization put on the agricultural sector. Stalin would not let it go at that. First, he killed the NEP. Second, he embarked on an all-out, two-in-one strategy based on the Marxist tenet of class struggle — a struggle that he said would escalate as the country approached communism. So, keeping industrialization in motion through grain exports, he and his henchmen unleashed a death machine that would pave the way for collectivization. They did it — by littering the land with corpses.

It’s important to note that Ukrainians farmers had formed the backbone of non-Russian national sentiment in the USSR. This, along with their economic power and private property instincts, made our grandfathers the most dangerous community in the eyes of the communist regime, which helps explain why the “Genius of Genocide” would focus his effort on them.

As shiploads of grain departed from Odessa, every hour a thousand Ukrainians were dying an inhuman death. Armed supply squads had ravished their villages, taking away the very last pound of their harvest. Once famine broke out, driving migration to safer areas, troops were deployed to quarantine the hunger-stricken villages, thus insuring their extermination. No exceptions were made for women and children, nor was there a centralized statistical effort to monitor the process. For this reason, the best demographers can do is offer educated estimates, never knowing exactly how many million people died. What remains dead certain, though, is that Stalin’s business plan had no place for them the moment they “paid their dues.” They had to disappear from the face of the earth, with as little paperwork as possible.

The Holodomor crowned collectivization. Its sedative effect on Ukrainian society helped the Kremlin quickly convert the surviving Ukrainians into a kolhosp-based serf race. One fact speaks for itself: In the countryside, no passports were issued and no wages were paid until the 70s.

The drainage of the Ukrainian gene pool went in sync with the influx of Russians into Ukraine’s major cities. If no crime component can be gleaned from a policy that drastically alters a country’s ethnic makeup, then ethnic cleansing ceases to be a crime against humanity.

By the end of the 30s, Ukraine’s intellectual elite had perished in the Gulag, and Russification had taken reigns. Of course, not a page of this would ever go into Soviet history textbooks. And by the time the Soviet Union turned its last page, generation upon generation of Ukrainian urbanites had grown up speaking little or no Ukrainian — without a clue why they should be. In school, office, and personal environments, Ukrainian was a dying rural dialect, a badge of cultural inferiority to be disowned at all costs.

Even though de-Ukrainization has come to the end of the road, de-Russification has yet to start. To large numbers of Ukrainians their country still feels like Canada to the Québécois. Just imagine this: Only recently have Ukrophone movie lovers been granted the opportunity to watch Hollywood flicks in Ukrainian. Quite an achievement for a country in its fifteenth year of independence!

Politically, the fruits of Stalin’s work continue to block Ukraine’s vision, preventing our nation from realizing its potential. Since the early 90s, when the ruptured communism gave way to the scorched earth capitalism, an army of USSR apologists captivated a certain percentage of the public. These false prophets strongly appealed to the Sovietized, nostalgic masses, many of whom, out of economic despair, prayed for Stalin’s second coming.

Impoverished by the Kravchuk and Kuchma regimes, they were easily led to believe that the Holodomor was nothing but a Russian-baiting conspiracy theory fabricated by Ukrainian nationalists and Americans imperialists.

The elderly will take their communist gods to the grave. But what about the youth? What about twenty to fortysomethings, whose pledge of allegiance to the USSR comes in a softer form, if at all? It’s their hearts and minds we should win over.

In fact, the generation gap may help close the history gap. Regardless of one’s cultural upbringing, knowing history can’t hurt as much as not knowing it. People who ignore history are bound to repeat it. How do we make sure the younger generations know better?

When we think of the Holodomor, we don’t think of a needle in a haystack. The SBU archives are brimming with photographs, eyewitness accounts, secret directives, and memos documenting all the horrors of this meticulously premeditated Moscow-made genocide. All it takes is an open mind and a visit to the Holodomor Exhibit at Ukrayinsky Dim.

Ukraine and the international community owe it to the victims to never forget the Holodomor. It’s time to spread the word and let the whole world know about what happened in Ukraine. Had the American public learned about it in 1933, the FDR administration would have balked at establishing diplomatic relations with the USSR. New York Times reporter and Stalin apologist Walter Durante would have never gotten his Pulitzer’s Prize.

Finally, how does the PRU come into play? That brings us to the ultimate question: Who bore the cost of industrialization and who cashes in on the benefits?

Among the proud owners of Ukraine’s post-agrarian economy, it’s Regionalists who make the top of the list. Unfortunately, their “hard-earned” status makes it hard for them to acknowledge the nature of death of those 6 to 10 million people who footed the bill for Stalin's industrialization in a way that sets them apart from the rest. It’s another way of saying “where one stands depends on where one sits.”

Now that Yanukovych has demystified his BLT (“Better Living Today”) formula, it would be safe to assume that his grassroots supporters in southeastern Ukraine should expect to be catered only on account of their ignorance of history.

By summarily denying the Holodomor and its ethnic profile, the Regionalists are soft-soaping Stalin’s reign of terror and desecrating the man, woman, and child whose bones lie at the foundation of all the stuff that makes them king of the castle today.

In effect, they are denying themselves the moral right to their multibillion-dollar possessions — that is, if they ever had one, given the economic atrocities of the privatization era.

In 1933, Sergio Gradenigo, Italian Consul in Kharkiv, then capital of Soviet Ukraine, became one of the few Westerners to report on the Holodomor, from what little he could in the urban landscape. As dead bodies and people on the verge of dying could be spotted on the streets of Kharkiv, Gradenigo frankly wrote in his dispatches that the developments he witnessed would facilitate Russian colonization of Ukraine.

“Am I a mayor or a colonial administrator?” That’s the question Mykhailo Dobkin (PRU), a distinguished Holodomor denier, should ask himself. Unlike the issue of UPA recognition, the Holodomor defies the much-exploited right-of-Dnipro-left-of-Dnipro cultural divide. The Holodomor truly brought them together, if not to say that left-of-Dnipro Ukraine bore the brunt of it.

Got a problem accepting the fact of the Holocaust? In a total of 11 countries, including Germany and Austria, a jail sentence will help you reconsider your point of view. If this sounds like a joke to you, ask David Irving.

Yushchenko, the first president to break with the practice of benign neglect of the issue, has an enormous amount of work to do to cultivate a nationwide awareness. His proposed Holodomor bill, which merely envisages fines for denying the Holodomor, has encountered stiff resistance among Regionalists and communists, who commonly label such legislative initiatives as witch-hunting.

Besides the long litany of apologetic theories such as crop failure and local despotism, one mainstream school of thought attempts to disprove the Holodomor as ethnic genocide by arguing that the famine did not discriminate between Ukrainian and non-Ukrainians. Indeed, among those who starved to death, small proportions of Jews, Poles, and Russians could be found.

Continuing with this logic, it would be amiss not to elaborate that, in addition to Jews, Gypsies, and sexual minorities, Hitler also massacred Belarusians, Ukrainians, and Russians, the latter three in greater overall numbers. Now, the questions would be: Does that knowledge somehow produce a watered-down picture? Does it blur the ethnic lines, to the point of making them barely recognizable? Does it, relatively speaking, relegate the Holocaust to a category of ordinary events? And, finally, do Germany and Austria have an appearance of witch-hunting nations?

As the years go by, leaving us with fewer and fewer Holodomor survivors, Ukraine’s younger generations need a sound publicity campaign and activist effort that, among other things, would hunt down the motives of Holodomor deniers, in simple, friendly terms. By constantly exposing the symbiotic relationship between communist apologists and post-communist special interest groups, we may slowly lift the bewitchment off the people in southeastern Ukraine.

Only then, with their minds open and their hearts warm, will the Ukrainian people look to the past with understanding and to the future with confidence.

P.S. We miss you James Mace.

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