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Ukraine: Famine

Volume 506: debated on Monday 22 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Bolton South East of 6 October 2008, Official Report, column 234W, on Ukraine: human rights, what the policy of the Government is on the recognition as genocide of events which led to the Holodomor famine in Ukraine in 1932-33; and if he will make a statement. (317564)

The Holodomor was an appalling, man-made human tragedy and the UK fully recognises its importance in Ukraine’s history. The UK has co-operated with Ukraine to promote remembrance and increase public awareness of the Holodomor. We have supported statements at the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe honouring the memory of those who perished in the Holodomor and encouraging the promotion of its remembrance. In 2008, His Royal Highness The Duke of York, Her Royal Highness Princess Eugenie of York, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and my right hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Caroline Flint), the then Minister for Europe all paid their respects to those who suffered so terribly in 1932-33 by laying wreaths at the Holodomor memorial in Kyiv.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was represented at the events to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor held in Kyiv on 22 November 2008, and the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary sent written messages of condolence to mark this important occasion. The UK was also represented at the 75th anniversary memorial event in London.

With regard to the question of whether the events of 1932-33 should be recognised as genocide, the UK does not judge that the evidence is sufficiently unequivocal to categorise the Holodomor as genocide as defined by the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide. However, we do recognise that there is a division of opinion among academics on this matter and we will continue to follow the debate closely, particularly in the light of any further emerging evidence.