Ukrainian President Calls on World to Recognize Soviet-Era Famine as Genocide
KIEV, Ukraine -- President Viktor Yushchenko called on the international community Friday to recognize as genocide the forced Soviet-era famine that killed up to 10 million Ukrainians.
Soviet dictator Josef Stalin provoked the 1932-1933 famine as part of his campaign to force Ukrainian peasants to give up their land and join collective farms. During the height of the famine, cases of cannibalism were widespread as people grew desperate to survive.
"The world must know about this tragedy," said Yushchenko at the opening of an exhibition dedicated to the famine victims on the eve of its anniversary.
He said the millions of victims should "become a lesson for our nation as well as for the whole world."
Yushchenko demanded that Ukrainian diplomats strengthen their efforts to receive recognition from all countries. Already, some countries such as Canada, the United States, Austria, Hungary and Lithuania have recognized the famine as genocide.
Ukraine plans to mark the anniversary Saturday by lighting 33,000 candles - representing the number of people who died every day at the famine's height.
The former Soviet republic also plans to plant an alley of trees and hold a downtown march in the capital, Kyiv. The National Broadcasting Council asked television and radio stations to not air any entertainment programs on Saturday.