23 November 2012, 17:28

Russia's and Ukraine' common history

Russia's and Ukraine' common history

On the 24 of November Ukraine will mark Holodomor Remembrance Day in memory of victims of forced famine and political repressions. According to tradition, it will be marked with a minute of silence and the burning of candles. In Kiev, the country’s president and prime minister will take part in the mournful ceremony at the Memorial to Holodomor Victims.

In Ukraine the forced famine of 1932-33 is considered an unprecedented crime of the totalitarian regime against the Ukrainian people. Russia shares the opinion that it was a terrible tragedy. The problem is that during President Yushchenko’s time his ideologists tried to interpret Holodomor as one of the facts of the age-old oppression of Ukrainians by Russians. For this purpose, an entire Institute of Memory was set up in Kiev which developed a lot of Russophobic historical myths. As a result, the word ‘holodomor’ became a stumbling block in relations between Moscow and Kiev. It is well-known that the hunger of the 1930s was the reason for the deaths of millions of Ukrainians but also millions of villagers living along the Volga River, in the Ural Mountains, West Siberia, Kazakhstan, the North Caucasus and other regions. Every nation should remember its victims but it is high time to forget Yushchenko’s ideology, head of the Ukraine Department at the Institute of CIS Countries Kirill Frolov says.

“We also mean the attempt to interpret the hunger in Ukraine in the 1930s as the genocide of the Ukrainian people alone. Recall that in the 1920s the Bolsheviks carried out the genocide of Russians and the elimination of the Russian Orthodox Church and actively supported the idea of the so-called Ukrainisation. It was an attempt to separate Ukrainians from Russians and make a thousand years of our common history null and void. As for the hunger, it was a consequence of Stalin’s industrialization policy. It was a conflict between the city and the countryside which involved the entire territory of the Soviet Union, including Russians and Ukrainians. It was not genocide but sociocide associated with the industrialisation policy.”

Passions and arguments on this subject have subsided. At present, historians and public opinion leaders could form a certain ritual of remembrance of the victims of political repressions that swept over both Russia and Ukraine in the first half of the 20th century, Deputy Director of the Centre for Studying the Post-Soviet Space Alexander Karavayev believes.

“Other CIS countries could join this activity. Recall that in Russia we also have a date which is marked on the state level. It is Remembrance Day for Victims of Political Repressions. We should try to understand this problem of forced hunger. There is no doubt about this, it was forced hunger. The main idea is not to bring charges against anyone in present-day politics. We could calm down and discuss this problem cold-mindedly, develop a common approach which would be used in politics, education and the media.”

During his annual visits to Ukraine, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill traditionally lays flowers to the Memorial of Holodomor Victims. Last summer, reading a sermon in Kiev, he urged people to be reasonable in their assessments of the information provided by the media which sometimes sows discord. The Patriarch does not divide his parishioners into Russians and Ukrainians and the common historical memory of our two nations keeps both happy and tragic moments.

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