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Archive for October, 2008

Day will mark Ukrainian genocide (in Alberta)

October 31st, 2008 No comments

From the Edmonton Journal:

EDMONTON – MLAs spoke eloquently, passionately and at times tearfully Thursday of the horror of genocide and the strength of the Ukrainian people as they passed a bill proclaiming a memorial day for the Ukrainian famine, or Holodomor.

In a speech heavily peppered with Ukrainian phrases and words, Stelmach described how millions were starved to death by Soviet policies that saw crops stripped from Europe’s traditional bread basket through the early 1930s.

The genocide, in 1932 and 1933, was Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s attempt to subdue the Ukrainian people by systematically starving them and restricting travel beyond their villages. The exact number of victims remains unclear.

Bill 37 was introduced and passed unanimously in just over an hour Thursday afternoon, and proclaims every fourth Saturday in November “Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day.”

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Hell hath no fury like a resentful Communist

October 30th, 2008 No comments

From the Times (UK):

With all the seriousness that it can muster, the Commmunist Party of St Petersburg has accused the new Bond girl of treachery. Its argument rests on two claims: that Bond films are Western propaganda, and that Olga Kurylenko – for that is her real name – was raised and educated free of charge by the Soviet Union, which she now implicitly attacks by appearing alongside a British spy so influential that his real-world status as the embodiment of a thousand escapist fantasies is immaterial.

Kurylenko is 28 and from Ukraine. This means that the Soviet Union actually relinquished her to free markets and democracy at the age of 11, having thoroughly oppressed, irradiated and impoverished her country first.

But the article takes an odd twist:

Still, the St Petersburg Communists have a point. How would we feel if Daniel Craig defected to Moscow to star in the new wave of patriotic Russian films that the Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has promised to fund? Or if John Cleese, nurtured and lionised by British audien- ces from the era of Monty Python to his accession to the mythic role of Q, signed on to the payroll of resurgent Russian nationalism and gloried in their gadgets?

Outraged, that’s how. But the St Petersburgers’ argument does have one serious catch. The Bond film franchise has never, in any of its forms, been anti-Russian. Even in the depths of the Cold War its chief villains were freelancers. When Smersh fielded an assassin to take out 007 once and for all, he was an Irishman. In another caper the KGB turned its top operative loose on him, but to little effect. Remember Agent XXX? Bond does. She was the spy who loved him.

Do the Communists in Russia really have a point?  I commented on their page asking if the author felt that Bollywood (India’s Hollywood) had the right to exist after independence and their own Victorian Holocaust that killed between 12 and 29 million people, with a story very similar to the Holodomor:

These people were, he demonstrates, murdered by British state policy. When an El Niño drought destituted the farmers of the Deccan plateau in 1876 there was a net surplus of rice and wheat in India. But the viceroy, Lord Lytton, insisted that nothing should prevent its export to England. In 1877 and 1878, at the height of the famine, grain merchants exported a record 6.4m hundredweight of wheat. As the peasants began to starve, officials were ordered “to discourage relief works in every possible way”. The Anti-Charitable Contributions Act of 1877 prohibited “at the pain of imprisonment private relief donations that potentially interfered with the market fixing of grain prices”. The only relief permitted in most districts was hard labour, from which anyone in an advanced state of starvation was turned away. In the labour camps, the workers were given less food than inmates of Buchenwald. In 1877, monthly mortality in the camps equated to an annual death rate of 94%.

As millions died, the imperial government launched “a militarised campaign to collect the tax arrears accumulated during the drought”. The money, which ruined those who might otherwise have survived the famine, was used by Lytton to fund his war in Afghanistan. Even in places that had produced a crop surplus, the government’s export policies, like Stalin’s in Ukraine, manufactured hunger. In the north-western provinces, Oud and the Punjab, which had brought in record harvests in the preceeding three years, at least 1.25m died.

I’m still waiting for my comment to be approved.

Edit:  It got approved!

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Russians trying to shift the spotlight away from the Holodomor

October 25th, 2008 No comments

Next month the National Day of Remembrance for the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor is approaching, and Russian media outlets are pushing a story about one of its researchers finding a ‘Holodomor’ in the USA at same time as it was happening in Ukraine!  The article is full of US criticism:

While America lectures Russia on the 1932-33 famine in Ukraine, Russian historian Boris Borisov asks what became of over seven million American citizens who is appeared from US population records in the 1930s.

The U.S. Congress added fuel to the fire by adopting resolutions nearly every year blaming the Soviet government for alleged staged famine in the 1930s in Ukraine. The first resolution came in 1988, 50 years after the events described. The current members of Congress wonder about the following, and I quote, “people in the  government were aware of what was going on, but did not do anything to help the starving”.

Read more…

The article offers little to counter these claims – the only flimsy counter arguments are made second-hand through the researcher himself.  Not surprisingly he can counter them!  Few explanations are given for his methods, but attacks on American values dominate the article and another one it links to.

There are some major flaws in this research.  Boris is making his facts, comparing 1990’s Russia with 1930’s USA:

As I was doing comparative research of the American Great Depression in the 1930s, and the Great Depression of the 1990s in Russia, I grew interested in the social dimension of the tragedy.
Let me quote some figures, if you don’t mind – demonstrating how other countries reacted to the similar situation. If you believe that four or six million people is a terrible number, let me quote this: male mortality rate in Russia: 810,000 in 1984; 1,226,000 in 1994 – whereas the population is the same. In other words, as  compared with 1984, the year 1996 had an additional number of 416,000 dead males. You have to add females and children to that figure.


Nothing in the article says he’s taken into account the medical and technological advances that have occurred in the 60 years separating the two.  Also noticeably absent is any set of credentials, besides ‘Russian historian’.  Could he be just an actorHas this tactic ever been used by Russians before?

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Ukrainian Dinner in Ottawa tomorrow

October 25th, 2008 No comments

From the Ottawa Sun:

Traditional Ukrainian Dinner: With Ukrainian cuisine and music, 5-7 p.m. dinner, show at 7 p.m. tomorrow (Sunday) at Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral Auditorium, 1000 Byron Ave. Tickets $17, $15 students/seniors, $7 under 12, under six free. 613-722-1372.

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Ukrainian news round-up – Oct 24 2008

October 24th, 2008 No comments
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