On November 7, 2003, Valeriy Kuchinsky, the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN, sent a cover letter to the UN Secretary General with a request to include in the documents of the 58th session of the UN General Assembly an attached Statement by the delegations of almost forty countries among them, to the surprise of most, that of the Russian Federation, Belarus and Syria on the occasion of 70th anniversary of the Great Famine of 1932-33. In the text, the number of victims was stated to have been from 7-10 million, the word “Holodomor” was used, and the description “national tragedy of the Ukrainian people” were used. The statement also referred to the memory of millions of Russians, Kazakhs and other nationalities. The UN Secretary General honored this request.
It is interesting in retrospect that at that time the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN was Sergey Lavrov. One explanation is that the Russian Federation and President Putin were involved mostly in the war with Chechnya at that time.
Three days later, the Ukrainian World Congress, together with the World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations, the only two Ukrainian non-governmental organizations that were and are members of the UN with consultative status, issued a “Statement of Support for Commemorating the Victims of the Great Famine of 1932-33 in Ukraine”.
In May 2007, the UWC submitted a report of its activities during 2003-6 to the Committee of Non-Governmental Organizations at the UN for consideration and approval, in accordance with UN regulations for non-governmental organizations. In January 2008, this Committee reviewed the report and adjourned. It posed two questions in the interim, what is the position of the UWC regarding the joint Statement on the Holodomor, which was made during the 58th session of the UN General Assembly, and what are the sources of the number of victims of the Great Famine in the UWC Statement.
The UWC replied that its position coincides with the assertions of almost forty states that signed the Statement, and the estimate of 7-10 million was made on the basis of the following sources: Robert Conquest’s book “Harvest of Sorrow”, the final report of the US Congressional Commission on the Ukraine Famine and the findings by the International Tribunal of eminent jurists which the UWC had convened; that the number of 7-10 million is composed of 7 million on the territory of the former Ukrainian SSR, and 3 million on other territories of the USSR, in particular, the Kuban, the North Caucasus, and Kazakhstan. Outside the Ukrainian SSR, the worst Famine was on territories densely populated by Ukrainians. The report of the International Tribunal includes statistics from two censuses of the USSR from 1926 and 1939.
At the session of the same NGO Committee in May 2008, none of the 19 states except the Russian Federation objected to the submission and ratification of the UWC report. Yet because of the Russian Federation, the report of the UWC remained unaccepted.
On October 28, 2008, the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation Vitaliy Churkin convened a press conference at the UN. The purpose of this conference was to boast to the UN
press, that the RF had managed to controvert Ukraine’s efforts to include the commemoration of the Holodomor victims in the program of the 63rd session of the UN GA. A representative of the UWC present at the conference managed to ask Churkin a question, namely, whether this event of a famine by forced collectivization and deprivation was not an attempt at the genocide of the Ukrainian people. Immediately, the UWC representative was surrounded by Churkin’s security service, which caused the UN security to act as well. The UWC representative was accosted, threatened and asked to leave the press briefing room as other press representatives approached him for further comment.
Despite this, the commemoration of “Holodomor” victims continued in November-December of each year at the UN for a of various locations through the efforts of the Permanent Representation of Ukraine to the UN led by the Permanent Representative Yuriy Sergeyev.
This changed significantly when Viktor Yanukovych was elected or falsified as the President of Ukraine, and a like minded Kostantyn Hryshchenko became the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Yuriy Sergeyev tried to do what he could. In 2014, under President Poroshenko, Volodymyr Yelchenko took his place. An annual commemoration of the”Holodomor” within the premises of the UN has not resumed. It has not under the current Permanent Representative of Ukraine Serhiy Kyslytsya.
The aggression of the Russian Federation at the UN has intensified not only in relation to the observance of the “Holodomor”, but in a more serious direction since the first invasion of the Russians into Crimea in February 2014. Here, the Kremlin began to flex its muscle brazenly at the forum of the UN Security Council, seizing and illegitimately exploiting the seat of the USSR in the UN Security Council.
Clearly the Russian aggressors are guilty of serious crimes, but those who acquiesce to Russian usurpation and aggression at the UN are not entirely blameless either. After all, the RF is not a member of the UN.
October 28, 2022 Askold S. Lozynskyi