KYIV -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said mankind has yet to come up with words to describe the pain Ukrainians experienced during the Stalin-era famine, known as the Holodomor.
Zelenskiy made the remarks at a ceremony in Kyiv on November 23, as Ukrainians marked the 86th anniversary of the Holodomor, in which millions of people died of starvation blamed largely on Soviet policies of the early 1930s.
Zelenskiy told the crowd that Ukraine "will never forget nor forgive the crime of the Holodomor, which was caused by the Stalin regime."
Ukrainians mark a Holodomur Remembrance Day every year on the fourth Saturday of November.
Between 3 and 7 million people died in the Holodomor, or "death by hunger."
Millions died after Soviet authorities forced peasants in Ukraine to join collective farms by requisitioning their grain and other food products.
"Today we honor the memory of the victims of the Holodomor -- the crime of genocide committed by the totalitarian Stalinist regime against our people, against the people of Ukraine," Zelenskiy told the crowd.
Ukrainian organizers encouraged people to place lighted candles in their windows at 4:00 p.m. local time on November 23 to honor the Holodomor's victims.
Metropolitan Epiphanius, primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine that was granted autocephaly earlier this year, in a November 23 statement hailed the fact that "today we can speak the truth [about the tragedy] and must do it loudly, because evil should not be hidden, as was done for decades by the Soviet regime."
U.S. and Australian diplomats in Kyiv offered expressions of solidarity with Ukrainians and vowed never to forget the tragedy and its victims.
"We join the people of Ukraine in solemnly remembering and mourning all those who lost their lives during the tragic 1932-33 #Holodomor," the U.S. Embassy tweeted on November 23, along with a recorded message from acting U.S. charge d'affaires William Taylor.
Taylor described the tragedy as artificial and a consequence of actions by Soviet authorities.
The Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, in 2006 declared the Holodomor a "genocide" against the Ukrainian people.
Russia rejects the notion that Soviet authorities systematically targeted Ukrainians.
Russian authorities note that a poor harvest at the time wiped out many in other parts of the Soviet Union and many Russians, Kazakhs, and others died, too.
At least 15 other countries have officially recognized the Holodomor as a "genocide," but not the United States.