Writing on the op-ed pages of RIA Novosti Andrei Marchukov, PhD (History), a staff researcher of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Russian History, claims that Russia is blameless in the Ukrainian famines under Stalin. Here’s his “scholarly analysis” (pursuant to a request from a reader) with La Russophobe‘s running commentary.
The Soviet famine of 1932-33 was an act of genocide against Ukrainians. Kiev has been forcing this point on the world, the United Nations and Moscow for several years now, in a vast and aggressive campaign. The Famine (Holodomor, in Ukrainian) is an all-pervading ideological concept, a tool of public indoctrination. It is not only a tribute to the victims’ memory but also a pressing political demonstration by present-day Ukrainian leaders, spearheaded against Russia as much as against the communist past.
LR: So, let’s see if we understand. When Ukraine remembers its history, that is “indoctrination” but when Russia does it (using the youth cult Nashi as the instructor), that is just patriotism. Right?
The matter returned to the United Nations on October 15, when Ukraine submitted to a UNESCO conference a resolution demanding the greatest possible information about the Great Famine. In fact, this information is not withheld, even though the world does not regard the Famine as a deliberate genocidal act. While fully recognizing the Ukrainian tragedy, there is no explicit proof that the famine was provoked by the Kremlin and intended to exterminate the Ukrainian nation.
LR: By “no explicit proof” (the same thing Vladmir Putin says about Iran’s nuclear bomb plans), he apparently means there’s not document in which Stalin personally admits he caused the famine to kill off Ukrainians. There’s no “explicit proof” that the U.S. has any intention to invade Russia, but Vladimir Putin is acting on that supposition. Did you notice Mr. Marchukov calling on Putin to show “explicit proof” before doing so? The world condemns Iran and seeks to sanction it, yet Russia ignores the world. It seems world opinion only matters to Russia when it agrees with Russia. And, by the way, if one might be so bold, where is Mr. Marchukov’s “explicit proof” that “the world does not regard the Famine as a deliberate genocidal act”? Why are Russians allowed to make conclusions without showing “explicit proof” yet non-Russians must have it? And, do you notice that Mr. Marchukov is not prepared to say what action against Russia he would be prepared to support if “explicit proof” were given?
The holodomor concept first arose amongst the Ukrainian Diaspora. Many books and press publications appeared in the West in the 1940s-70s describing the Famine as a Kremlin plot to kill off Ukrainians and undermine the survivors’ spirit. Public attention to the holodomor skyrocketed in the 1980s. This was the time when President Ronald Reagan was referring to the U.S.S.R. as the Evil Empire. Ukrainian emigres added fuel to the fire with their reminiscences and analyses of the holodomor. In 1984, the U.S. Congress established an ad hoc commission to investigate the causes of the Great Famine in Ukraine in 1932-33. Its 1988 Report to Congress described the famine as “man-made” and denied any causal connection with drought. “Joseph Stalin and those around him committed genocide against Ukrainians in 1932-1933,” the report says. Perestroika, with its outspoken spirit, brought the concept to Ukraine. Mourning the millions starved to death went hand-in-hand with wrathful denunciations of genocide. Today’s propaganda aims to make the holodomor part of the Ukrainian world-view. President Viktor Yushchenko called on politicians of his generation to “preserve historical memory and spare no efforts to make the world qualify the Famine of 1932-33 as genocidal”.
LR: Correct us if we are wrong, but didn’t this madman just get finished saying that the world didn’t agree it was genocide? He’s just shown formal evidence that it does. Where is his evidence from some other country, any other one, reaching the opposite conclusion? Is he suggesting that because this conclusion comes from the U.S. it is therefore wrong? Does that mean if the U.S. decided there was no genocide, it happened and Marchukov would admit it?
Why is such sensation whipped up over bygones? On the one hand, Ukrainian propaganda has found a satanic enemy, the epitome of Absolute Evil, and is now out to develop a guilt complex in Russians to make them feel morally and materially responsible for the tragedy. On the other hand, it seeks to make Ukrainians feel like innocent victims, and spread this assumption worldwide. Tellingly, Ukrainian leaders are ever more frequently referring to the Famine as the “Ukrainian Holocaust” – thus putting the U.S.S.R. on a par with Nazi Germany. Cardinal Lubomir Husar, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, concisely described the goal of the campaign: “Memory of the holodomor is what our nation shall stand on.” Words of equal aptitude belong to former President Leonid Kuchma: “Ukrainian national consolidation has a long way to travel yet. We have made Ukraine. Now is the time to make Ukrainians.”
LR: We wonder if Mr. Marchukov would adopt the same attitude towards the “bygones” of the Great Patriotic War, Beslan and Dubrovka. Does he lecture Russians, especially Vladimir Putin, that they mustn’t discuss these bits of ancient history?
“Making Ukrainians” implies a new national ethic and mentality, with the idea of Ukrainians and Russians as two nations apart. What several Ukrainian generations firmly believed in has been turned on its head. The young regard their country’s recent past as a time of colonialism, when Ukrainians were ruthlessly exterminated. It is hard to find a more graphic example than the Famine.
LR: “Several generations believed”? Correct us if we’re wrong, but those are the ones that lived under the Russian dictatorship in Moscow’s Kremlin, aren’t they? Why are Russians allowed to engage in making Russians — via Nashi for example — but Ukrainians are not allowed to make Ukrainians? Is it because this card-carrying fanatic believes there is no such thing as Ukraine, that the nation is really just an appendage of Russia, as Russian pop icon Oleg Gazmanov sings in his hit song?
Was it really genocide or ethnocide against Ukrainians? The U.S.S.R. owed the terrible famine of 1932-33 to agricultural collectivization. The rapid creation of a thoroughly new type of farming went together with the cruel dispossession of well-to-do farmers, so-called “kulaks”. Peasant resistance inevitably followed. Bloated grain procurement quotas envisaged total confiscations-seed, food and fodder grain. The 1932 quota for Ukraine was 400 million poods, or 6.4 million metric tons, but even the severest possible confiscations brought only 261 million poods, so extra procurements were launched, with searches, ruinous fines-and firing squads. Peasants were dying of starvation as early as October 1932, and the famine went on up to the next year’s end.
LR: And yet, it was the Ukrainians who perished in famine, not the Russians, wasn’t it? What an odd coincidence! Oh, the fickle finger of fate!
Those two years saw 2.9-3.5 million deaths from starvation in Ukraine alone, according to various estimates. Yet it was not ethnocide proper. Registry office statistics for 1933 show death rates in urban localities no higher than average, in contrast to an exorbitant death toll in the countryside not only in Ukraine but all over the Soviet Union. People were doomed not on the grounds of ethnicity, but merely because they lived in rural areas. Grain shortages were exacerbated by a rapid increase of the urban population. It swelled by 12.4 million nationwide in the four years 1929-32, and by 4.1 million in Ukraine within 1931, mainly because persecuted peasants fled their villages. Nothing could have been easier for the regime than to starve townspeople, who depended on food supplies from elsewhere for their survival. Yet, it was not done. The regime made do with harsh food rationing. Peasantry as a social class was the victim of the cruel policy. This point clearly follows from the geography of the Great Famine. It spread throughout the Soviet breadbasket areas-Ukraine, the middle and lower reaches of the Volga, the North Caucasus, the central part of the Black Earth Zone, the Urals, part of Siberia, and Kazakhstan – with a total population of 50 million. The Famine killed 6-7 million people nationwide. All Soviet peoples were victims.
LR: Half of those who perished were Ukrainian by his own admission, and he fails to state any number of ethnic Russians who lost their lives — nor does he even attempt to deny that the non-Ukrainians were classifiable as enemies of Stalin.
Arguments cited to prove that the famine was a deliberate act of genocide do not hold water. Still, many Ukrainians do not want to turn the tragic page of history. This is understandable. If they did, public attention would turn to their own, present-day, policy and its dire fruit. The Ukrainian population shrank by 4.3 million in 1991-2003-3.6 million died, and over 1.2 million emigrated, while only 500,000 former emigres returned. If we extrapolate the figures to the end of 2006, the population decline exceeds 5.4 million-this without wars, famine, or the Kremlin’s imperialism. Don’t these statistics give food for uneasy thought?
LR: The inherent subtext of this garbage is that Mr.Marchukov would admit Russia was responsible and support appropriate sanctions against Russia if the evidence supported it. But there is not one word of “explicit proof” that he actually believes this to be found in the article — nor is there one single word of criticism of either the Stalin dictatorship or the current Kremlin regime — yet, this maniac has the gall to complain about propaganda issuing from Ukraine! Never once does he ask what Russia might have done to make Ukrainians hate Russia so much that they would engage in propaganda. He seems not to notice that Russia’s alienation of the world is in fact much broader — that only rogue nations like North Korea, Iran and Venezuela will give Russia the time of day. Meanwhile, he ignores the fact that after having had its lifeblood sucked as if by leech by Russia for decades and facing even today active Russian efforts to subvert its independence (especially the weaponization of energy resources), Ukraine is naturally suffering the consequences today. Yet, he asks Ukraine to ignore the horror that caused its current problems, just because it would be so much more convenient for Russia.
That’s just plain crazy. This is what passes for “scholarship” from Russian “universities” today — universities that are pawns of the Kremlin just as they were in Soviet times, universities that are swimming in corruption and are no more capable of giving a true liberal arts education than of finding the cure for Russia’s own rapidly plunging population. Russia should get its own house in order before it dares to lecture other countries how they should live.
And the irony is simply breathtaking: When anyone in the West delivers such lectures to Russia, all they meet is outrage. Yet, Russia feels itself perfectly free to treat Ukraine, and other former Soviet slave states, exactly the same way.