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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

It finally happened, despite everything

Ukraine’s parliament recognizes Holodomor as genocide
5 December, 2006 - 00:00
Photo by Ruslan KANIUKA, The Day

This law was a difficult one for the Ukrainian parliament to push through. At first the parliamentarians could not decide whether to examine this law draft. Only 222 MPs out of the required 226 voted to submit the law draft. The Communist Party of Ukraine fraction did not vote in a body, and only six members of the Party of Regions fraction voted for it. The second attempt, which took place with the assistance of Parliamentary Speaker Oleksandr Moroz, was successful, and a total of 227 MPs voted in favor of the bill.

The communist Alla Aleksandrovska even accused Moroz of bias, to which he responded: “I know that I am the head of the Verkhovna Rada now, but if we do not want to examine absolutely clear questions, then I do not value this post. I would like you to know this.”

For the sake of fairness, it should be mentioned that Moroz’s position unquestionably had an impact on the fate of the draft law. By noon, after the unveiling of the memorial plaque in memory of journalist Heorhii Gongadze, Moroz declared: “Today the law will be approved with my amendments.” (As reported earlier, the phrase “Ukrainian nation” was changed to the “Ukrainian people.”)

It is clear, however, that these amendments were not enough for the Regionals. During his speech from the parliamentary tribune Yevhen Kushnariov suggested adding the specific definition of genocide to article 1. The Regionals also proposed excluding the words “is banned” concerning denial of the Holodomor as genocide, but retaining the formulation “acknowledged as an outrage.” He also proposed sending the draft law for further revision.

Nevertheless, toward evening 233 deputies, including two Regionals, voted for the president’s law with the amendments. The law on the Holodomor has in fact split the anticrisis coalition, and not just the coalition. Taras Chornovil is considering resigning from parliament. He took his voting card with him and left the Verkhovna Rada hall.

Chornovil says that his actions were caused by his disagreements with the party’s policy, which does not acknowledge the Holodomor of 1932-33 as genocide. “Since I cannot act contrary to the party line, I will probably resign my parliamentarian’s commission,” he explained.

Stanislav KULCHYTSKY, deputy director of the Institute of History at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine:

The fact that the Verkhovna Rada approved this law is a colossal achievement. It is our joint victory. We have strived for this for a long time. Now it will be easier to work in the United Nations. It is very bad that only two Regionals voted for it. This greatly undermines this party’s authority. However, the people have seen who is who. On this question it is not possible to be on a single platform with the communists. This is the position of 1933, the year when people were being annihilated.

Yury SHCHERBAK, writer, diplomat, and former Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada:

The Verkhovna Rada’s decision is historic, in the direct sense of the word. This is the point when Ukraine obtains the absolutely legal right to ask the parliaments of other countries and finally the UN to support the recognition of the genocide against the Ukrainian people. I would like to congratulate all the members of the Verkhovna Rada who voted for this decision. I regret that some MPs did not vote for it. I am not talking about the heirs of Stalin’s regime: everything is clear where they are concerned, but there are a lot of intelligent people in the Party of Regions who did not vote because of some party restriction. They will regret this. They will simply feel shame when they look into their children and grandchildren’s eyes.

BLITZ INTERVIEW

Yaroslav KENDZIOR, Ukrainian parliamentarian, Our Ukraine fraction

How do you explain Moroz’s position? He looked like a dissident in the anticrisis coalition.

The question was put point-blank to every fraction: either you will be forever inscribed in the “book of shame” or join the community of Ukrainian citizens and politicians who will finally put an end to this terrible tragedy by absolutely honestly defining it as genocide against the Ukrainian people. It seems to me that this is also a serious test for the anticrisis coalition. Today this is how Moroz decided it. He did it in his typical style, by the way. The same situation occurred when the Constitution was being adopted. On the eve of its adoption he was a harsh opponent, but when he saw that the situation was reaching a dead-end (either the Verkhovna Rada would be dissolved or there would be a referendum on the Constitution), Moroz decided to head the process and become the father of the new Constitution.

We have a similar situation now. Realizing how important this problem is for our society, he decided to help adopt this law. Today he has acquired a lot of political dividends, thereby creating serious problems within the anticrisis coalition. I am convinced that now there will be a serious breakdown between the communists and socialists.

As for the communists, they are also “victims” of the Holodomor. I think that the crime of Stalin’s totalitarian regime not only buried millions of innocent people, but also created a generation of “mutants” — people without kith or kin, bastards who are ready to dance on the victims’ graves. This is also a crime that was committed by the totalitarian regime.

What do you think about the Regionals’ position?

I think that what is compelling the Regionals to resist the adoption of this law is not so much their own position as the Kremlin’s instruction. Moscow is afraid of this law being adopted and the possible consequences.

What legal consequences are possible?

There will definitely be legal consequences. I am convinced that after today’s voting, we must work to ensure that similar decisions are adopted by all the parliaments of the world. Then it will be easier for the UN to make the necessary decision. Then the appropriate consequences will follow. Someone must be called to account for the deliberate annihilation of a people. First of all, this is, of course, the political force that regards itself as the legal successor of that regime. Second, this is Russia, which declared itself the sole legal successor of the Soviet Union. This is what Russia fears.

By Olena YAKHNO, The Day
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