Opening the exhibition, The Swung Bells of Memory, the Head of State stressed that these genocide famines were Ukraine’s greatest national tragedy, killing more people than during World War II. He noted that there were still many mysteries and unknown facts about those events that should be meticulously studied. Yushchenko emphasized that the whole world should remember this tragedy to never let it happen again. He said we should construct a monument that would be adequate to the unprecedented scale of this disaster. The President is convinced it is necessary to conduct a contest to choose the best design of this monument and believes we should also establish a national institute of memory.
“I would like to address the Culture Minister, cabinet members and parliamentarians: we must pay our tribute to all victims of this tragedy,” he said. “This is the challenge our generation is faced with.”
Yushchenko gratefully recollected all people who began to openly speak about the genocide famine many years ago. He particularly thanked Vasyl Barka, writer who first used this word combination in his book The Yellow Knight, and the poet Borys Oliynyk. He also reiterated parliaments of the United States, Australia, Canada, Hungary, Argentina, Lithuania and Ukraine had acknowledged those famines as genocide against the Ukrainian people.
The Head of State urged the world community to acknowledge it.
“I would like to ask Ukraine’s political and public organizations to more actively work in this field. We should receive the world acknowledgement of that tragedy. The world must know about it,” he said.
Yushchenko added that we should make a documentary to “detail this tragic page of our history.”
In 2003, he said, the UN also acknowledged our famine as genocide in its declaration, which was signed by 63 countries. The Head of State said he wanted our diplomats to more actively work with UN members to raise their awareness of the tragedy.
The President also thanked the Vasyl Stus Memorial Association for their initiative to construct a memorial complex and a museum commemorating all victims of those events.
Yushchenko stressed that on November 26 he wanted “the Ukrainian nation to spare no effort to make this day relevant to this profound tragedy,” and said those events had affected all regions of Ukraine. The President called on each citizen to honor the millions of famine victims.
Speaking about tomorrow’s plans, he reminded all they would plant a snowball garden.
“I want all of you to join us and I would like to see more kids, young people and students there,” he stressed.
Yushchenko noted that it would be sad if only cabinet members and politicians took part in this ceremony. He also asked all Ukrainian drivers to stop their cars tomorrow at 4 PM to silently honor the victims and then urged Ukrainians to light candles at this time. The President thanked coordinators of the exhibition, which he visited along with First Deputy Secretariat Chief of Staff Ivan Vasyunyk, Humanitarian Vice Prime Minister Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk, and Culture Minister Ihor Likhovy. Visitors can see photos, documents and books dedicated to the famines and political repressions. The opening ceremony was accompanied with symphonic music and choir singing.
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