The bells have tolled in sombre tone to commemorate one of Ukraine’s darkest chapters. In the capital Kiev, thousands joined political leaders on the anniversary of a famine over 60 years ago that killed between seven and ten million people.
The 1932-33 Holodomor – or death by starvation – is seen by many in the country as a national tragedy. Today allegations by Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko that it was a deliberate genocide by the Soviet leadership under the dictator Josef Stalin have angered many Russians. “We know for a certainty that it was a genocide. Extermination of our people by starvation. Combined with ferocious slaughter of intellectuals, clergy, political and civil activists,” said Ukraine’s President. In the western city of Liviv, a separate ceremony was held to bury the remains of victims of a further wave of the Holodomor. Four years ago 602 bodies were found in an unmarked grave. They have now been officially laid to rest. The victims had been shot trying to flee the famine. The food shortage is said to have been caused by the Soviet authorities seizing Ukrainian grain to feed other parts of eastern Europe, causing suffering to millions.