The message to Mr. Yanukovych

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Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych Monday declined to join Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper when Harper used the occasion of his visit to Ukraine to talk about the Ukrainian Famine -- the Holodomor, as it is called.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/10/2010 (4416 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych Monday declined to join Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper when Harper used the occasion of his visit to Ukraine to talk about the Ukrainian Famine — the Holodomor, as it is called.

The Holodomor was one of the greatest genocides of the 20th century.

As many as 10 million Ukrainians died of starvation and disease as the result of the calculated policy of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. Many western leftists continue to deny this genocide took place and many Russians remain unapologetic in their defence of Stalin’s monstrous tyranny.

Mr. Yanukovych stands proudly among them.

As an unreconstructed Soviet-style Communist, he maintains the famine was a natural event affecting the entire Soviet Union, rather than the result of Stalin’s deliberate decision to destroy the Ukrainian nation.

After Ukraine declared its independence from Russia in 1991, Canada was the first nation to recognize the declaration.

Canada also was one of the first nations to recognize the Ukrainian Famine as an act of genocide, a fact of which all Canadians rightly should be proud.

Mr. Yanukovych is not nearly as forthright as Mr. Harper, which perhaps was why he did not choose to share the stage with him.

The famine, he said later, was a “horrible event in the history of the Ukrainian people and in the history of our neighbouring peoples,” echoing the Stalinist line the famine was a natural phenomenon rather than an act of government policy.

The Ukrainian Famine needs to be remembered as one of the worst acts of genocide in the 20th century, a century that was scarred by genocides.

Mr. Harper made that point this week. He and Mr. Yanukovych did agree to facilitate the movement of young Canadians and Ukrainians between the two countries.

Mr. Harper, however, also reminded Canadians and Ukrainians — after Ukraine and Russia, Canada is home to the largest Ukrainian population in the world — of a more immediate threat.

That is the fact that after almost 20 years of independence, Ukraine’s democracy remains fragile and Mr. Yanukovych’s government does nothing to make it more sturdy.

Canada and Ukraine have mutual interests in trade and cultural relations that can benefit both nations, but those interests can only prosper between two democracies, as Mr. Harper has now made clear.

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