Ukrainian President Calls For Rid Of Idols Of Communism

KIEV, Ukraine -- At a dedication ceremony to victims of a Soviet mass killing, Ukranian President Viktor Yushchenko spoke in harsh terms of the need for his country to literally tear down symbols of its communist past.

“It is time to save our land from these satanic symbols and finally send the idols to the dustbin of history,” said the president in his speech, referring to the fact that many communist-era statues still stand in Ukraine today.

“It's time to get the idols of communist leaders out, who scorned, hated and shot our people,” Yushchenko continued.

The ceremony took place on Oct. 11 in Demianiv Laz in the Ivano-Frankivsk region of Western Ukraine, where in June 1941 the Soviet secret service slaughtered Ukranian political prisoners.

The mass graves were unearthed in 1989 after the fall of communism when archival documents were declassified. The bodies of 524 victims from three of the five graves were exhumed and reburied on Oct. 28 that year. Artifacts from the victims have been placed in the memorial museum which the president opened.

“Five mass graves, hundreds of people killed, priests, teachers, students, intellectuals and ordinary people whose only fault was that they were Ukrainians,” said President Yushchenko.

In 1960, by the orders of Communist Party leaders, Demyanov Laz was cleared and used for to build housing. By the mid-1980s, the area was covered in debris and remained that way until 1989.

History of Soviet Suppression

At the ceremony, the pro-Western head of state who has strained relations with Russia, recalled the harsh history of communist suppression in Ukraine.

In 1930, there had been mass terror against the national intelligentsia, because, according to Yushchenko, Western Ukraine represented for the Soviet regime a particular danger for their “freedom-loving spirit and independent thought.”

Then, together with the Red Army, the secret service sent in executioners to Ivano-Frankivsk. According to Yushchenko, they began the mass arrests and executions, torture chambers, prisons filled with innocent people, and transport trains filled with deportees were sent east.

Once again, in 1939-1941, more than 1.5 million people were affected by the Soviet terror in Western Ukraine, or one out of 10 inhabitants of the region. Yushchenko quoted American historian Jan Gross calculated that this represents three to four times more people than the Germans killed in occupied Poland, an area twice as big as Ukraine.

In July this year, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe adopted a resolution condemning Stalinism and Nazism in Europe. In Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia Stalinism and Nazism have been convicted at the legislative level.

President Yushchenko himself says he was a victim of a communist plot to kill him when he was the opposition leader running for election in 2004. At the time, he became severely ill after being poisoned by dioxin and lost the race. He won the presidency the following year.

Source: Epoch Times