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Yushchenko Praises Guilty Verdict Against Soviet Leaders For Famine

A scene from the great famine in 1933, known among Ukrainians as the "Holodomor."
A scene from the great famine in 1933, known among Ukrainians as the "Holodomor."
KYIV -- President Viktor Yushchenko has praised a Ukrainian court ruling that finds former Soviet leaders culpable in the mass famine in Ukraine in 1932-33, RFE/RL's Ukrainian and Russian services report.

The judge declared the case closed after pronouncing the verdict, as all of the defendants are deceased.

But Yushchenko said in a statement that today's ruling is a landmark "that restores historical justice and gives a chance to build Ukraine on fair and democratic principles."

At least 3 million Ukrainians are thought to have been died during the famine, which many historians blame on Soviet economic and trade policies.

The list of leaders found guilty by the court of organizing "genocide of a Ukrainian ethnic group" and murdering millions of people included Soviet leader Josef Stalin, his close associates Vyacheslav Molotov and Lazar Kaganovich, Soviet Ukrainian Communist Party officials Pavel Postyshev and Stanislav Kosior, and Ukrainian politicians Vlas Chubar and Mendel Hataevich.

The case was initiated by the Ukrainian Security Service in May.

Boris Gryzlov, the speaker of Russia's State Duma and a leader of the ruling United Russia party, responded by calling the ruling a politically motivated action that is "part of the plan to fall afoul of Russia."

He said the idea that genocide was organized by Soviet leaders is baseless.

Gryzlov added that Ukraine suffered from the poor harvest along with other Soviet republics.

"Ukrainian authorities once again are trying to prove that Russia treats Ukrainian people badly," Gryzlov said.

Gryzlov noted that resolutions regarding the famine -- known in Ukrainian as Holodomor -- have on several occasions been discussed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) but were blocked by deputies.