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Ukrainian Sues Yanukovych Over Famine Statement


A woman lights a candle at the memorial to victims of the famine of the 1930s.

A woman lights a candle at the memorial to victims of the famine of the 1930s.

KYIV -- A court in Ukraine today is due to start hearing a lawsuit against President Viktor Yanukovych for saying the famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s should not be considered genocide, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Volodymyr Volosyuk is suing Yanukovych for a statement he made in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in April. Yanukovych said that "it is not fair to call the great famine in Ukraine in 1932-1933 a genocide against the Ukrainian people."

Volosyuk argues that Yanukovych wounded his personal honor and dignity and the memory of the millions of Ukrainians who died in the famine. He wants the court to demand that Yanukovych offer a public apology for his statement in Strasbourg.

Yuriy Karmazin, a member of Ukraine's Parliamentary Committee on Issues of Justice, told RFE/RL that the Kyiv appeals court had ruled that the Soviet leaders of the 1930s were responsible for the famine that killed millions of people in Ukraine.

According to Karmazin, denying the famine took place is illegal. Yanukovych did not deny the famine, but he said it affected many nationalities and ethnic groups, and therefore it was not fair to label it genocide.

A second member of the Parliamentary Committee on Issues of Justice, Svyatoslav Oliinik, told RFE/RL that the case has no chance of success. He predicted that Volosyuk will not be able to prove judicially that his rights were abused.

Mykola Zamkovenko, a former chairman of Kyiv's Pechera District Court, which is hearing the case, told RFE/RL that it is necessary to have adequate legal documentation in order to state officially that the famine was genocide. He added that Yanukovych was simply expressing his personal opinion, which he has the right to do.
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