In a resolution adopted April 28, 2010, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) strongly condemned “the cruel policies pursued by the Stalinist regime” which triggered the Great Famine in 1929 in the grain-growing areas of the former Soviet Union, culminating in 1932-33.

PACE “resolutely rejects any attempts to justify these deadly policies, by whatever purposes”; for the parliamentarians, these policies as deliberately conducted by the Soviet regime, are comparable to “a crime against humanity” because they led to the deaths of “millions of innocent people in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine, which were parts of the Soviet Union”. 

The Assembley stresses that in Ukraine, which suffered the most, the peasantry was particularly hit by the Great Famine and millions of individual farmers and members of their families died of hunger following forced “collectivisation”, a ban on departures from the affected areas and confiscation of grain and other food. These tragic events are referred to as Holodomor (politically-motivated famine) and are recognised by Ukrainian law as an act of genocide against Ukrainians.

The report also mentions Kazakhstan, where millions fell victim to the mass famine, and the ratio of the dead to the whole population is believed to be the highest among all peoples of the former USSR. Traditionally nomads, the cattle-growing Kazakhs were forced to settle down and were deprived of livestock. The Great Famine is remembered as the greatest tragedy of the Kazakh people.

In the grain-producing areas of Russia (the Middle and Lower Volga, the North Caucasus, the central Black-Soil region, the Southern Urals, Western Siberia and some other regions), the famine caused by “collectivisation” and dispossession of the wealthy individual farmers took millions of lives in rural and urban areas. In absolute figures, it is estimated that the population of Russia paid the heaviest death toll as a result of the Soviet agricultural policies.

While these events may have had particularities in different regions, as pointed out in the report by Mevlüt Çavusoglu (Turkey, EDG), the results were the same everywhere: millions of human lives were sacrificed to the fulfilment of the policies of the Stalinist regime.

PACE recommends establishing the full, un-biased and un-politicised truth about this human tragedy, and making it public. The Assembly welcomes the important work already done in Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Moldova, Russia and in particular in Ukraine in order to ease access to archives, and calls on the competent authorities of these countries to open up all their archives and facilitate access thereto to all researchers, including from other states.


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