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Ukraine Calls For Holodomor Famine To Be Recognized As 'Genocide'

A woman lays a piece of bread next to candles during a ceremony in memory of the victims of the Holodomor famine in Kyiv on November 26.
A woman lays a piece of bread next to candles during a ceremony in memory of the victims of the Holodomor famine in Kyiv on November 26.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has called for the Holodomor, the Ukraine famine of the 1930s, to be recognized as "genocide."

Poroshenko spoke at a ceremony in Kyiv on November 26 marking the official Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holodomor, which commemorates the millions who died of famine under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

"I just signed a presidential decree that among other things tasks the Foreign Ministry to continue its work to achieve a recognition of Holodomor among the international community, foreign countries, and international organizations as the genocide of the Ukrainian people," he said.

Poroshenko, Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman, representatives from Ukraine's churches, and envoys from various countries attended a ceremony to honor the victims.

There was also a nationwide minute's silence observed at 4 p.m. local time.

The official Day of Remembrance for the victims of the famine is marked every year on the fourth Saturday of November.

The Holodomor took place in 1932 and 1933 as Soviet authorities forced peasants in Ukraine to join collective farms by requisitioning their grain and other foodstuffs.

Historians say the seizure of the 1932 crop in Ukraine by Soviet authorities was the main cause of the famine. Moscow has long denied any systematic effort to target Ukrainians, arguing a poor harvest at the time wiped out many in other parts of the then Soviet Union.

It is estimated that as many as 9 million people may have died as a result of executions, deportation, and starvation during the Stalin-era campaign.

Last year, a monument commemorating the Ukrainians who perished in the Holodomor was unveiled in the U.S. capital.

The monument -- a bronze slab resting on a stone plinth and showing a field of wheat stalks -- symbolizes the seizure of grain by the Soviets.

"The famine was an attempt to force the Ukrainian people to their knees, to deprive us of our dignity, to destroy our national identity and to kill our hope for the right to create our own destiny in our own land," Poroshenko said in a taped video address that was played at the unveiling.

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