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18.05.2010

Institute of National Remembrance to remain intact

   

Volodymyr Semynozhenko, Deputy Prime Minister on Humanitarian Issues announced on 15 May that the Institute of National Remembrance would not be brought under the State Archive Committee. The newspaper Kommersant – Ukraine reports that the Institute’s Director Ihor Yuknovsky and Mr Semynozhenko have agreed on principles for the Institute’s future work, these based on the consolidation of society. Mr Semynozhenko agreed, for example, on the need to prohibit public statements against members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists [OUN], Ukrainian Resistance Army [UPA] and the Soviet Army since Ukrainians fought among their numbers during the Second World War.

During the commemoration ceremony in memory of the victims of political repression at Bykivnya [where perhaps 100 thousand victims were buried in mass graves during the Terror – translator], Mr Semynozhenko stated that the government would not be reorganizing the Institute of National Remembrance. He claimed that rumours of plans to restructure or close the Institute had been circulated to discredit the government.

The Institute of National Remembrance was created in 2006 by a Cabinet of Ministers Resolution as an executive body with special authority with respect to preserving national memory. Within the scope of its powers, the Institute draws up legislative acts, initiates and coordinates the creation of memorial complexes and monuments. Its Acting Director since the outset has been Ihor Yukhnovsky.

As reported here, on 19 March National Deputy from the Party of the Regions, Vadim Kolesnychenko, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Mykola Azarov in which he accused the institute’s leadership “of introducing specific priorities in its work that revise the common history of Ukraine and Russia.”
Without naming Yukhnovsky, Kolesnichenko suggested the institute be run by Anatoliy Chaikovsky, a professor whose musings on Ukrainian history have been published in the newspaper, Communist. He suggested also that the Institute be subordinated to the State Archive Committee which is run by Olha Ginzburg, a member of the Communist Party.
On 29 March Mr Semynozhenko sent a letter to several organization and ministries to determine the Institute’s “future functioning.”

However Mr Yukhnovsky says that he has now agreed a way forward with Mr Semynozhenko. He said that during a meeting with him on 1 May, he explained the Institute’s concept of the Second World War, i.e. that Ukrainians had fought as part of the Soviet Army, as well as in OUN-UPA, and that therefore in order to consolidate society there should be a ban on public statements against these armies. He added that the Deputy Prime Minister had also supported their point of view in issues regarding Holodomor as genocide of the Ukrainian nation. “We also sent the President the data from the Institute of Demography which show clearly that the issue of Holodomor was genocide of the Ukrainian people”.

Kommersant-Ukraine reports that the Head of the State Archive Committee expressed surprise over the government’s decision. She claimed that subordination of the Institute to her Committee would have saved money, and that up till 2008 they had been in charge of the Institute’s means and had dealt efficiently with all regional archives. She said that despite the increase in public funding for the Institute in 2009, many of the Institute’s projects had been cancelled or indefinitely postponed.

Ms Ginzburg’s views on certain archival material, especially that relating to the crimes of the Soviet regime, have raised serious controversy, see, for example, http://www.khpg.org.ua/en/index.php?id=1181941303

From a report here: http://www.kommersant.ua/doc.html?docId=1370563

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