Russian invaders destroy Memorial to Victims of Holodomor in Mariupol
Russian occupiers of Mariupol in Donetsk oblast have dismantled the Monument to the Victims of Holodomor, the manmade Famine of 1932-33 which claimed the lives of millions of Ukrainians. The current Russian regime shouts ‘desecration!’ every time it sees, or imagines, a lack of due respect in former Soviet satellite states to various WWII memorials or graves, yet it is trampling on the memory of Ukrainians who were starved to death in a crime which is recognized in Ukraine and many other countries as an act of genocide. Petro Andriushchenko, Adviser to the Mayor of Mariupol, is surely right in his assessment that “the Russians are continuing to destroy everything that is linked with Ukraine, our culture, history and heritage.”
In all parts of Ukraine that Russia is temporarily occupying, pitifully inadequate efforts are underway to restore the critical infrastructure and the homes that the Russians have destroyed. Instead, efforts have been focused on eradicating the Ukrainian language, Ukrainian textbooks, symbols, etc. from educational institutions, and even changing road signs into Russian. The aggressor state has now turned to destroying a memorial to the innocent victims of a heinous crime, with the destruction triumphantly displayed by Russian propaganda channels.
Holodomor was assiduously concealed in Soviet times, with the current Russian regime aggressively trying to deny the deliberate nature of the Famine. As Denis Kazansky, a journalist originally from Donetsk, notes, this new desecration is hardly surprising. “After all, the artificial famine of 1932-33 was the same deliberately planned genocide of the Ukrainian people as the present attacks on civil infrastructure and civilian homes.”
The Monument to the Victims of Holodomor was made of granite and erected in 2004 near the Drama Theatre which was sheltering around a thousand residents when it was bombed by the Russians on 16 March.
A propaganda video about the destruction of the Monument claimed to be showing Mariupol residents in favour of the move. In fact, Andriushchenko asserts that there are no people from Mariupol on the video. He says that the main proponent on the video is Artem Bobrovsky, who is presented as the head of a faculty of the occupation ‘Donetsk national university’, and who is heard claiming that it was not Ukraine that suffered most from the 1932-33 famine. This individual graduated from the Donetsk National University in 2013, the year before Russia’s effective invasion of Donbas, and he is now clearly collaborating with the invaders.
The key propaganda line is that the granite will be used for construction work. The cynicism of this is quite staggering considering that it was Russia who destroyed around 90% of Mariupol’s infrastructure and huge numbers of residential buildings.
It is also as dishonest as most of Russia’s propaganda narrative. After all, this is not the first attack on remembrance of Holodomor. Back in August 2015, the Russian proxy ‘Donetsk people’s republic’ dismantled the Memorial to the Victims of Political Repression and Holodomor in Snizhne (Donetsk oblast). On that occasion, they claimed that such destruction was aimed at the “reinstatement of historical justice”.
The alleged ‘historical justice’ that Russia and its puppets in occupied Ukraine are pushing is in fact a distortion of history which tries to muffle the crimes of the Soviet regime and justify the actions of Soviet dictator and mass murderer Joseph Stalin. In Russia this has led to a situation where a frightening percentage of the population support monuments to Stalin and where, in June 2021, 39% of Russians named Stalin as the most outstanding figure of all times and nations. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, since the invasion and annexation of Crimea, has been based on a distortion of historical facts, aimed at denying Ukrainian identify and all that distinguishes Ukraine from Russia. Its concentration, in all areas that fall under its occupation, on ‘education’ is designed at instilling these propaganda lies in children, while also destroying their Ukrainian identity and learning that they should want ‘to defend Russia’.