Leaders from around the world are honoring the Ukrainian victims on the anniversary of the Holodomor — “death by hunger” — brought on by the Stalin regime in the 1930s and comparing those circumstances to the present day.
The Holodomor was a man-made famine in then-Soviet Ukraine in 1932-1933 brought on by Soviet leader Josef Stalin’s policies that resulted in the deaths of millions of Ukrainians.
Ukraine commemorates the anniversary of the start of the family on the fourth Saturday of November, and this year will be the 90th anniversary.
“This November marks the anniversary of the Holodomor — ‘death by hunger.’ During his regime, Joseph Stalin imposed harsh and repressive policies on Ukraine, including creating a deliberate famine in 1932-33 that caused millions of innocent Ukrainian women, men, and children to perish,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “We commemorate all the lives lost in this senseless tragedy, and we pay tribute to the resilience of the Ukrainian people who endured devastation and tyranny to ultimately create a free and democratic society.“
The president also tied in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has taken the lives of thousands and displaced millions in the nearly nine months of the war.
“Even as the brave Ukrainian people continue to defend their democracy and freedom from Russia’s brutal aggression, we pause to also honor the victims of past injustices and horrors inflicted on Ukraine,” the president added.
The Holodomor is recognized as a genocide by only 16 countries, including the United States and the Vatican City.
Pope Francis also made a similar comparison in comments to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
“Saturday begins the anniversary of the terrible genocide of the Holodomor, the extermination by starvation artificially caused by Stalin between 1932-1933,” Francis said. “Let us pray for the victims of this genocide and let us pray for so many Ukrainians — children, women, elderly, babies — who today are suffering the martyrdom of aggression.”
Russian forces have been targeting Ukraine’s critical infrastructure for weeks ahead of the winter, putting millions of civilians at risk of facing the cold without electricity, heat, or running water. U.S. officials have accused the Russians of war crimes, and targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure could amount to war crimes.
Andrew Weinstein, U.S. Public Delegate of the United States to the General Assembly of the United Nations, spoke at the Holodomor Remembrance Prayer Service earlier this week at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, and he said this year’s commemoration “is set against the backdrop of yet another tragedy against the Ukrainian people.”
“90 years ago, we saw a complete disregard for human life and the weaponization of food. Today, we see the same,” he added. “The Holodomor included deliberate acts to impose suffering and repress dissent. And today, we see the Kremlin create the exact same misery and deploy policies to suppress the ability of Ukrainians to express their separate identity and attempt to impose ‘Russification’ and annexation.”