Saint Sophie’s cathederal in Kiev, Ukraine, was the focal point today for a remembrance service to commemorate the terrible loss of life in the 1932-33 famine. An estimated four to 10 million people died as Stalin forced through his collectivisation of farms, the state taking over all private land and reallocating crops, seeds, and animals. President Yuschencko and his family led representatives from across Ukraine’s political class. For years the episode has split opinion. Many claim the collectivisation was a deliberate tactic to destroy Ukrainian self-sufficiency and independence from the Soviet system, which was being rolled out across the former Russian empire at that time.
They have campaigned for years at the UN for it to be recognised as a genocide, while others say collectivisation was applied indiscriminately everywhere, and Ukraine was no different. Ukraine’s parliament recognised the use of the word genocide to describe the period in a vote at the end of last year.