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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

Holodomor and Holocaust denial to be a criminal offense

3 April, 2007 - 00:00

President Viktor Yushchenko has submitted a bill to the Verkhovna Rada, introducing criminal liability for denying the Holodomor and the Holocaust. Ukraine’s head of state said this is an urgent document that should be discussed by parliament ahead of schedule, the president’s press service reported last Wednesday.

The draft law “On Changes to the Criminal and Procedural Codes of Ukraine” introduces criminal liability for denying the 1932-33 Holodomor in Ukraine as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people and the Holocaust as an act of genocide against the Jewish people. The president is convinced that the passage of this law will spur Ukrainians as well as Ukrainian citizens of all ethnic origins to rally around the idea that society must not tolerate any manifestations of violence, should respect life and the rights and liberties of citizens, and strengthen interethnic harmony and civil peace in Ukraine.

“Passing this law will comply with European democratic standards and further promote Ukraine’s prestige in the world,” the report says. One argument in favor of this law is that a number of states have officially recognized the 1932-33 Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people and introduced criminal liability for publicly denying the Holocaust.

The report says that more than 10 European states, including France, Switzerland, Belgium, and Poland, have made it a criminal offense to deny the Holocaust. In Austria, Romania, and the Czech Republic this offense carries a term of imprisonment from 6 months to 10 years, and in Germany and Israel — up to 5 years. Romania has instituted a special punishment for civil servants — up to five years in prison.

President Yushchenko has also instructed the Cabinet of Ministers to draw up, in a month’s time, a number of measures to mark the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor. The president signed a decree to this effect last Wednesday, his press service reports.

The president says it is necessary to draw up a comprehensive list of Holodomor victims, create a National Memorial Book and similar regional memorial books, form a single register of Holodomor-related documents and materials, produce a feature film and a documentary on the events of 1932-33 in Ukraine, and issue a commemorative postage stamp and envelope.

Other suggested events include the unveiling of monuments and commemorative plaques in populated areas affected by the Holodomor, as well as additional measures aimed at convincing the UN General Assembly and the European Parliament to recognize the Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people. The president has also suggested measures to involve the Ukrainian community abroad in organizing by Oct. 1, 2007 an international competition for the best design of a monument honoring the victims of the Holodomor.

The president has also issued instructions to dismantle monuments and commemorative signs to individuals implicated in the 1932-33 manmade famine and political repressions, as well as to rename streets, squares, avenues, and parks named after these individuals.

President Yushchenko has also proposed that an international forum be held in Kyiv to mark the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor.

The president also said it is crucial to make the causes and results of this Ukrainian tragedy an essential part of high school and university curricula.