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28.12.2012

Foul legacy of Stalinism

   

Protesters daubed an exhibition item with swastikas (photo from the Radio Svoboda Ukrainian Service)

The Congress of National Communities of Ukraine has issued a statement regarding the actions by Stalinists on 21 December. At the same time, it is reported that the Crimean Tatars involved in obstructing them may be charged with hooliganism.

The Congress states:

On 21 December 2012 a regional branch of the Russian organization “Sut vremeni – Krym” set up a street exhibition to mark the birthday of Stalin – a criminal whose activities in Ukraine have been condemned by the Law on Holodomor 1932-1933 in Ukraine from 28 November 2006 and by the related court ruling, and in European by the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE “Divided Europe Reunited: Promoting Human Rights and Civil Liberties in the OSCE Region in the 21st Century” from 3 July 2009.

An attempt by provocateurs, inspired by the Russian neo-Stalinist Sergei Kurginyan, to present this criminal as the most significant State leader in the history of Russian civilization is an insult to the member of the peoples who endured tragedies unprecedented in their scale and consequences – the Holocaust, Holodomor, Deportation on the basis of nationality; repression – of Ukrainians, Jews, Crimean Tatars, Armenians; Poles; Germans; Greeks and members of many other ethnic groups in the country.

It is not without ill intent that the provocation was organized at a time when Ukraine is taking on the presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the body which condemned the Nazi and Stalinist totalitarian regimes responsible for a huge number of war crimes and crimes against humanity which entailed genocide and violation of human rights and freedoms.

We fully share the anger of the Crimean Tatars who destroyed the exhibition glorifying a dictator responsible for the genocide of the Crimean Tatar people which stripped them of their Homeland and caused an incalculable number of victims during the years of the Deportation.

We call on Ukrainians of different nationalities to support the legitimate outrage of the Crimean Tatars and speak out against attempts to use a criminal to insult the member of whole ethnic groups and provocation against Ukraine. We must finally free ourselves from the foul legacy of Stalinism. We are convinced that such attempts should be severely punished at court level and condemned by the Verkhovna Rada and President of Ukraine.

Meanwhile the Crimean Prosecutor’s Office has reported that it is carrying out a pre-trial investigation into the actions of the Crimean Tatars under the article of the Criminal Code « hooliganism ».

As reported, on 21 December a group of Crimean Tatars led by members of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People destroyed the exhibition to the Soviet dictator marking the  133rd anniversary of his birth.  The exhibition had been brought from Russia and mounted by people calling themselves members of the Russian civic organization “Sut Vremeni” [Essence of the Time] and its Crimean branch.

It showed photos of the dictator himself, as well as of foreign political figures with quotes praising Stalin and official pictures of Stalin’s Terror. The organizers also handed out leaflets calling on people “to get a grip of history and pay due to such a major historical figure as Stalin.”

After the organizers refused to dismantle the exhibition, a group of Crimean Tatars led by two members of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People hurled down the stands with the quotations and images of Stalin, with some of those present also taking part in the dismantling.  Somebody used a paint canister to draw something similar to a swastika. They said that for them Hitler and Stalin were the same.

Radio Svoboda reported at the time that the police had been present but had not intervened and that the local authorities had refused to comment as to why they had not attempted to ban an exhibition which is profoundly offensive to many and incites inter-ethnic conflict.

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