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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

“If Ukraine forgets about who brought it so much misery, it will never be free”

4 November, 2003 - 00:00

Recently The Day wrote about the important achievement in the campaign to rescind Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer prize The New York Times has published an article saying that professor Mark van Hagen, who conducted an independent research on the newspaper’s request, came to a conclusion that the prize should be returned. Today we publish an exclusive interview with Professor Lubomir LUCIUK, research director of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, initiator of this campaign in which our newspaper took an active part. Professor Luciuk doesn’t intend to stop on this and shares with The Day his view of what Ukrainians throughout the world could and should do to commemorate the Holodomor victims

Prof. Luciuk, the campaign you began to rescind the 1932 Pulitzer Prize awarded to Walter Duranty of The New York Times, essentially for reporting what many people in the West wanted to hear about Stalin’s Soviet Union instead of the horrors, which that period entailed, has inspired Ukrainians the world over. Why did you begin the campaign to remove from Stalin’s most famous and successful apologist the laurels he was then awarded for denying, among other things, the Ukrainian Holodomor in Ukraine?

To hallow the memory of the many millions of Ukrainians who were victims of the genocidal Great Famine of 1932-1933.

You are research director of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association. What can you tell us about its relation to civil liberties — and with specific reference to the national indignities from which your own ancestors fled — and issues in Ukraine such as the freedom of the press and of the issues of national language and the coexistence of Ukrainians in a nation state with its own national minorities that have their own national rights that the Ukrainian state has responsibility for?

The UCCLA has been in existence since the mid-1980s as a voluntary, nonpartisan organization dedicated to articulating and defending the interests of the Ukrainian Canadian community and, more recently, of the Ukrainian diaspora and even Ukraine. We have launched major campaigns on several fronts. For example, we have attempted to correct distorted reporting about what happened in Ukraine during the Second World War. Ukraine lost more of its people than any other nation in Nazi occupied Europe, a fact still not appreciated in the world. We have advocated that all war criminals should be brought to justice in criminal courts, regardless of their ethnic, religious, racial backgrounds or political beliefs, or when or where their alleged wrong doings were committed. We have stood up for the rights of Canadian citizens who have been, in our view, falsely accused of having participated in war crimes and subjected to denaturalization and deportation hearings. We have also championed the notion of recognition and reconciliation between the government of Canada and our community for the wrongs done during Canada’s first national internment operations, when thousands of Ukrainians were branded as “enemy aliens,” lost their freedoms and what little wealth they had, lost their right to vote, and were forced to do heavy labor in frontier areas of this country, for the profit of government and big business. We are also beginning a campaign to alert the world to the horrors befalling Ukrainian and other east European women, a modern-day holocaust orchestrated by criminal elements who suck these innocents into international prostitution and slavery. We are astounded that the government of Ukraine has done so little to protect its women from these transnational rapists and whore mongers. We do whatever we can to support democratic forces in Ukraine, hoping that, sooner rather than later, an expectoration of all those who once served the Soviet regime will take place. They have no role to play in civil society. While former communists and their collaborators hang onto the reins of power and influence in Ukraine our ancestral homeland can not be truly free.

Everybody in Ukraine or concerned about it says that it is important to understand and recognize that Ukraine was the victim was genocide, but they sometimes differ in explaining why. Why do you think so?

To date the government of Ukraine has not done enough to ensure that the archival evidence about the genocidal Great Famine in Ukraine is made readily available for scholars around the world. Releasing some documents, but apparently not all, is insufficient. As well, Ukraine should be launching investigations into who perpetrated the Holodomor and bringing those responsible, from the top down, to justice before the criminal courts of the country. Today there still are many former servants of the Soviets living on pensions in Ukraine. These collaborators have, to date, gotten away with mass murder. No one would argue that aged Nazi war criminals and collaborators should escape justice. Neither should Soviet war criminals or those who collaborated in communist crimes against humanity. Of course, one cannot blame Ukraine alone in this regard. We have alleged Soviet war criminals and collaborators in Canada, and others are alive and enjoying their pensions in Israel, the USA and throughout Western Europe. The world has simply not done enough to bring these villains to justice. Ukraine could lead the way. And, most certainly, Ukraine needs a major Great Famine Memorial complex in Kyiv and perhaps also in Kharkiv, educational, research and commemorative centers that would ensure that all Ukrainians and all visitors to Ukraine are forever reminded of the horrors that befell the country under Soviet and Nazi rule.

Which organizations were most helpful in supporting your efforts in the Duranty campaign?

We have been very fortunate in securing the support of individuals and groups from around the world. The Ukrainian World Congress, the Ukrainian American Justice Committee, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the Federation of Ukrainian Australian Organizations, the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain and the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America have been particularly helpful. But it was the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association that initiated and orchestrated this effort, which has now received so much international attention. I would like, in this context, to also personally thank Dr Myron Kuropas, of Chicago, who came up with the idea of a second postcard campaign, directed at The New York Times, asking them to return the Duranty Pulitzer Prize, regardless of whether or not the Pulitzer Prize Committee does the right thing and revokes it, as we have called for. It is a pity that the Government of Ukraine has yet to come forward and lend its moral support and weight to this international campaign. It certainly is odd that the government of a country that fell victim to genocide is relatively unengaged in this process. No one can imagine Israel being indifferent to Nazi war criminals or calls for bringing them to justice, or uninterested in commemorating the victims, or uninvolved when it comes to seeing justice done by exposing a major famine denier. Yet, to date, Kyiv is silent. That is very troubling, inexplicable, embarrassing.

Your work on the issue of rescinding the Pulitzer Prize of Walter Duranty has won a victory with Mark von Hagen’s report to The New York Times that the award should be rescinded, while the recent editorial in Canada’s Globe and Mail that defending the 1990 decision not to pull his Pulitzer was the correct one in not wanting to airbrush history? Who has airbrushed history here? Duranty or those who want to preserve an award that was won for something everyone, including The Globe and Mail, recognize as a disgrace to journalism?

We have no desire to “airbrush” Mr Duranty from history. We want him remembered for exactly what he was, a shill for the Soviets, Stalin’s apologist, a man who knowingly covered up a genocide. Professor von Hagen has confirmed that Duranty was a liar before, during and after the Great Famine. We know that he used his status as a Pulitzer Prize winner to attack those journalists, like Gareth Jones and Malcolm Muggeridge, who risked a great deal to tell the truth, only to then become victims of Duranty’s poisoned pen. We want all of that recalled, remembered, inscribed into the historical record for all time. Perhaps some Ukrainians, being Christians, can forgive Duranty, knowing that God will have judged him. But we have a duty to remember. No ones wants to forget Duranty or erase him. Quite the contrary. I think these kinds of rebuttals from The New York Times and Pulitzer Prize Committee representatives are very feeble. They should do the right thing and revoke Duranty’s Prize, and do so this November, to mark the 70th anniversary of this famine genocide. That would help bring closure to this matter and hallow the memory of the many millions of victims.

What do you in general think about the von Hagen report to the Times?

Most welcome for confirming what we have always said. Professor von Hagen is to be commended for his forthright statement and for then going on to say that he recommends that The New York Times return Duranty’s Pulitzer. His statement helped a great deal by securing even more coverage internationally for our efforts, from Kenya to Canada to Russia to the USA and Ukraine. This story is all over the media, worldwide.

You have asked the question of why we should stop here. Where should we go from here and how?

Ukraine needs to fund and create a Great Famine Memorial in Kyiv and probably in Kharkiv (capital of Soviet Ukraine during the Famine), with a commemorative and educational function, and funding sufficient to make it unequaled as a center for the study of Soviet war crimes and crimes against humanity, not only during 1932-1933 but before, during and after that particularly horrific tragedy. And the government of Ukraine must also move forward with identifying, locating and bringing to criminal prosecution those who orchestrated the genocide or served the Soviets as collaborators in other crimes against humanity and war crimes. There should be no statute of limitations that would allow mass murderers to escape justice. And, regardless of where they might now live, be it in Russia, Israel, Canada, England or elsewhere, the government of Ukraine should locate such persons and call for their extradition to face justice. If Ukraine forgets about who brought so much misery, physically and spiritually, to our homeland then Ukraine will never be free. This will be a painful process but it is an essential one.

Interviewed by James MACE, consultant to The Day