Genocide by famine – Ukraine, North Caucasus

source: dyarneward.com; United Human Rights Council

A Le Temps journalist took this photo in Buguruslan in 1921, 11 years before the so-called Holdomor took place in 1932. The famine had been going on for longer than the Russian officials admitted. No foreign journalists were allowed in and the government took no responsibility for it, and so the truth was put together through bits and pieces collected in time.

File:Children affected by famine in Berdyansk, Ukraine - 1922.jpg

Children in Berdyansk, Ukraine – 1922

 

Gareth Jones – “Everywhere was the cry “There is no bread. We are dying. This cry came from every part of Russia, Volga, Siberia, North Caucasus, Central Asia. I tramped through the black earth region because that was once the richest farmland in Russia and because the correspondents have been forbidden to go there to see for themselves to see what was happening.” (source)

Russia never prosecuted any of its mass murderers, as Germany did.

We know all about the crimes of Nazis Adolf Eichmann and Heinrich Himmler; about Babi Yar and Auschwitz.

But who remembers Soviet mass murderers Dzerzhinsky, Kaganovitch, Yagoda, Yezhov and Beria? Were it not for writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, we might never know of Soviet death camps like Magadan, Kolyma and Vorkuta. Movie after movie appears about Nazi evil, while the evil of the Soviet era vanishes from view or dissolves into nostalgia.

The souls of Stalin’s millions of victims still cry out for justice.

Read the rest here The forgotten Holocaust

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English journalist Malcolm Muggeridge who went on a secret (and risky) trip to Ukraine and the Northern Caucasus in 1933:

“The novelty of this particular famine, what made it so diabolical, is that it was the deliberate creation of a bureaucratic mind, without any consideration whatsoever of the consequences in human suffering”

Writer Arthur Koestler described what he saw from his train:

“Starving children who looked like embryos out of alcohol bottles … the stations were lined with begging peasants with swollen hands and feet, the women holding up to the carriage windows horrible infants with enormous wobbling heads, stick-like limbs and swollen, pointed bellies.”

Vasily Grossman:

“Their heads [were] like heavy balls on thin little necks, like storks, and one could see each bone of their arms and legs protruding from beneath the skin, how bones joined, and the entire skeleton was stretched over with skin that was like yellow gauze.

“And the children’s faces were aged, tormented, just as if they were 70 years old. And by spring they no longer had faces at all. Instead, they had birdlike heads with beaks, or frog heads – thin, wide lips – and some of them resembled fish, mouths open. Not human faces.”

Ukraine and the North Caucasus have some of the most fertile soils in Europe. Yet an (induced) famine killed millions of people in the 1930’s, in an attempt to bring under control rebellious people of Ukraine who had refused the new Soviet system. Though North Caucasians were not particularly reticent, they were indiscriminately affected.

soil fertility map europe ukraine north caucasus

Map below showcases mollisols (in dark green) which are an indicator of high soil fertility. Full world map here

Between 1918 and 1933, the Bolshevik regime embarked on a systemic plan to exterminate the peasant population of the Northern Caucasus and Ukraine. This was a deliberate tactic meant to collect wealth and “exterminate” farmers who refused to follow the mass collectivization program imposed by the Soviet regime.

North Caucasus lost a quarter of its population and Ukraine lost an estimate 5 million people. Ukraine called it “the Holodomor” (which means death by starvation). The great famine also affected Lower Volga, Kazakhstan and Siberia.

In 1918, in a ploy to increase the state’s wealth, the Bolsheviks prohibited ownership of private property and empowered the Secret Police (Cheka) to oversee the operation. Selected villages were blacklisted and surrounded by armed militia. A quota was imposed on the villagers and crops and livestock were confiscated in order to fulfill this quota. The peasants were unable to meet the targets and so they starved to death. The actions of the Bolsheviks would dramatically alter the socio-economic structure in Kazakhstan, the Northern Caucasus and Ukraine.

Map of the famine

In Northern Caucasus the death toll exceeded 1 million. The areas effected were the Republic of Adygea, Krasnodar Krai, the Republic of Karachay–Cherkessia, Stavropol Krai, Kabardino-Balkaria, the Republic of North Ossetia, the Republic of Ingushetia, the Republic of Chechnya and the Republic of Dagestan.

Stalin continued to impose radical reforms under his 5 year plan and entire populations  starved to death under his collectivization policy.

Famine Russia Ukraine North Caucasus genocide

Excerpts from an 1933 article written by Malcolm Muggeridge after his Caucasus/ Ukraine trip – read the full article click here Soviet and the peasantry

“How are things with you?” I asked one man. He looked round anxiously to see that, no soldiers were about. “We have nothing, absolutely nothing. They have taken everything away,” he said and hurried on. This was what I heard again and again and again. “We have nothing. They have taken everything away.” The famine is an organised one. Some of the food that has been taken away from them—and the peasants know this quite well – is still being exported to foreign countries.

Soviet party secretary for the North Caucacus said in a speech delivered at Rostov:

“But, you may urge, is it not true that we have deported Kulaks (name given to independent farmers) and counter-revolutionary elements before? We did deport them, and in sufficiently large numbers. But at the present moment, when what remains of the kulaks are trying to organise sabotage, every slacker must be deported. That is true justice. You may say that before, we exiled individual kulaks, and that now it concerns whole stanitzas (villages) and whole collective farms. If these are enemies they must be treated as kulaks …The general line of our party is to fight dishonesty by means of the extreme penalty, because this is the only defense we have against the destruction of our Socialist economy,”

GENOCIDE:
Stalin’s Ukrainian famine – the Holodomor

 As millions died, and others moved in search  of food, armed guards sealed off the border  with Russia, where there was food. As millions  died, the USSR exported grain. According to Dr  Taras Hunczak of Rutgers University, 28  million tons were exported during 1932 and  1933 – four tons of grain per each man, woman and child who starved. There was no physical reason that they should have died. It was a deliberate policy.

Read full story http://newsweekly.com.au/article.php?id=2923

April 1933 – Letters from Ukraine on the famine

“Oh, Mr. Ambassador! We cannot express in a letter all our misery; we are being forced to cannibalism by our Workers’ Government of Desperates; save us!” 

*Cases of cannibalism had been reported in Ukraine;  (extremely disturbing) photos exist as clear evidence.

 Documentary below starts with a detailed description of the famine and its causes

 

Malcolm Muggeridge 1983 interview about his secret trip to Ukraine and North Caucasus:

“I’ll tell you another thing that’s more difficult to convey, but it impressed me enormously. It was on a Sunday in Kiev, and I went into the church there for the Orthodox mass. I could understand very little of it, but there was some spirit in it that I have never come across before or after. Human beings at the end of their tether were saying to God: “We come to You, we’re in trouble, nobody but You can help us.”

Their faces were quite radiant because of this tremendous sense they had. As no man would help them, no government, there was nowhere that they could turn. And they turned to their Creator. Wherever I went it was the same thing.”

Famine Russia Ukraine North Caucasus genocide 2

Famine Russia Ukraine North Caucasus genocide 1

Famine Russia Ukraine North Caucasus genocide 7

Holodomor memorial

Holodomor memorial

 ♦

Chechnya’s dead

 

Source: www.rferl.org

*NOTE – Billions of euros are currently being invested in ski resorts throughout the North Caucasus, yet Moscow refuses to invest in a single forensic laboratory in Chechnya to dig up and identify war victims (despite Europe’s offer to cover the expenses and provide all expert needs). In 2008, two mass graves of 800, and 300 victims were found in Grozny, yet no significant measures have been taken regarding this issue*

Chechnya Russia war chechen men prisoners genocide North Caucasus

Detainees under Russian guard in Chechnya in a photo by Adam Borowski that is part of a photo exhibition in Prague called “Chechnya: The Final Solution”

    

  Aslan Chadayev was well-known in his village of Shalazhi, in central Chechnya, for being an avid reader.

He was immersed in a book when Russian soldiers stormed into his house, dragged him out, a shirt pulled over his head, and threw him into their vehicle.

The 19-year-old student was never seen again.

In the 9 years since Aslan’s disappearance, his mother Malika has lost all hope of finding him alive. But she is still desperately searching for his remains.

“As soon as a new mass grave or an unidentified body is discovered, she rushes there. She’s traveled to every corner of the republic,” says Malika’s sister-in-law, Aset. “She’s constantly rummaging in these graves in the hope of finding even just a piece of her son’s clothing. Missing people definitely must be searched for and identified; the truth must be admitted.”

THOUSANDS STILL MISSING

Aslan is one of thousands of Chechen civilians who disappeared without a trace after being picked up by armed fighters.

Rights groups say some 5,000 people are missing from Chechnya’s two wars, which began in 1994 when Russian soldiers marched into that small Caucasus republic to crush an independence drive.

The actual figure could be much higher. Still, there has been no government campaign to find and identify the dead.

Khozha Yakhyaev’s elder brother, Khasin, disappeared during the first war. After a 3 month search for his brother, Khozha learned that Russian soldiers had killed him and a group of civilians with flamethrowers.

He was able to identify Khasin by his teeth and bury him, together with the other, unidentified victims.

Khozha has since laid dozens of anonymous bodies to rest. He carefully numbers each grave, writes a description of the body, takes pictures, and stores the clothes of the deceased in plastic bags.

Chechnya Russia war chechen men prisoners genocide North Caucasus wars

“If only there was an opportunity to identify the bodies of those whom we buried in our village,” he laments. “I think many ordinary Chechens would gladly give up their monthly salary to help build a laboratory. I know people who would give their entire savings for this. That’s how badly this lab is needed in Chechnya.”

Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s powerful Kremlin-backed leader, has himself vowed to help the families of those who have disappeared find out about their loved ones.

These hopes, however, were quashed this month when Russia’s Health and Social Development Ministry rejected Chechnya’s request for a forensic lab, dismissing the project as too expensive.

International rights groups and agencies such as the Council of Europe have repeatedly urged Russia to speed up work on identifying bodies exhumed in its war-battered republic, and have pledged support.

Systematic forensic work could also raise uncomfortable questions for the Kremlin about the Russian Army’s actions in Chechnya.

Unlike some other postwar countries, Russia has yet to prosecute war crimes in Chechnya.

GROZNY BUILT ON BONES

The problem of identifying the dead is becoming all the more pressing as workers regularly stumble upon graves amid an oil-fuelled construction boom in the Chechen capital, Grozny.

A soldier stands over a mass grave in Chechnya in a photo by Adam Borowski that is part of the "Chechnya: The Final Solution" exhibition.

A soldier stands over a mass grave in Chechnya in a photo by Adam Borowski that is part of the “Chechnya: The Final Solution” exhibition

 

This summer alone, 2 huge mass graves were discovered containing a total of about 1,100 bodies.

Rights groups say there are dozens more known but unopened graves in fields, courtyards, and basements throughout Chechnya.

But Russia so far has focused its efforts on giving the capital a facelift that it can exhibit as a symbol of peace and stability. Grozny this year proudly inaugurated a brand new mosque, the country’s largest, with room for 10,000 worshipers.

To keep up with the frantic reconstruction pace, workers build around and often over graves, or quietly rebury bodies elsewhere.

Muhidin Tabakovic, from the Sarajevo-based International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), says this practice seriously compromises the identification process.

“The bodies in graves may have personal belongings such as wallets, identification cards, family photographs that can help identification,” says Tabakovic, who has directly participated in the exhumation of mass graves in former Yugoslavia. “Digging up bodies and reburying them in other locations causes huge problems because construction workers are not familiar with the whole process of excavation of human remains. The bones get mixed up and it’s then impossible to determine which bones belong to which bodies.”

The organization’s DNA-assisted identification program, the world’s largest, has already helped identify more than 14,000 people who disappeared in the 1990s Balkan wars, regions struck by natural disasters such as the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, the 2005 Katrina hurricane in the United States, or the mass executions in Chile under dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Tabakovic has no doubt the ICMP, which receives funding from almost 20 governments, would be ready to prove technical and financial support in identifying Chechnya’s dead.

“Exhuming bodies from mass graves makes it possible to reveal inhuman treatment. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is still active and everything we do is directly related to these people sitting in The Hague,” says Tabakovic. “This is why the Russian government is finding excuses, saying it’s too expensive, which is nonsense. It’s not about money. It’s about truth, about what really happened, and who is responsible for it.”

The Kremlin’s European “alibi”

source: Prague watchdog (read full article here)

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Children killed on April 8, 2004 in Vedensky district of Chechnya

The discussion about the building of a forensic laboratory in Chechnya has been continuing for years now without any hint of an early conclusion.

The possibility of creating such a laboratory in Chechnya was first raised in the reports of human rights organizations in 2000. From there, the debate moved to the Council of Europe, where it became one of the key bargaining chips in talks with Russia.

We recently received a letter from some colleagues in a Spanish human rights organization. Expressing a desire to join in the creation of the laboratory, they were of the opinion that “you don’t need any special investigations to determine the cause of death.” The main task, in their view, is to establish the identity of each of the bodies that is found and to return the remains of the deceased to their relatives. “We’ll help to identify the bodies and bury them, but on the subject of who killed these people, how and why, we won’t breathe a word.”

The letter contains references to Alvaro Gil-Robles. As European Commissioner for Human Rights, he frequently visited Chechnya and Russia and conducted negotiations there. Under his chairmanship, the political problems, the problems of war and peace, and most importantly of all, the investigation of crimes and the prosecution of war criminals, vanished from the agenda of talks with the Russian government. In exchange, the Council of Europe obtained permission to conduct humanitarian operations in Chechnya and set up a laboratory there. The funding for this – 3 million euros – was allocated in 2005.

The laboratory has not been created. Not even the meetings of the newly appointed European Commissioner Thomas Hammerberg with Putin and Medvedev in late April last year were able to break the deadlock. After the routine “yeses” and “of courses” there was no response from Russia’s Ministry of Health on the advisability of building a “laboratory for the exhumation and identification of dead civilians”. The reason for the refusal was a lack of skilled manpower, and of financial and material resources.

If anyone believes that the problem is one of money, they are deeply mistaken. This is a purely political matter. Imagine that the remains of a man are found who upon forensic examination turns out to be an abducted resident of the republic, with a specific name, address and stolen life. At once the question arises: who abducted him?

According to the above letter, the post-mortem examinations should be achieved in a limited and truncated version. In other words, the lab should turn a blind eye to the causes of death and concern itself solely with the identification and return of the remains of deceased relatives. Unobtrusively, the Europeans are being invited to participate in the concealment of crimes.

***