by Tomos Livingstone, The Western Mail
Cardiff, Wales, June 12, 2003
AN infamous apologist for Stalinist Russia, who ridiculed a legendary Welsh
journalist's claims that the regime was causing the starvation of millions
of people, could be stripped of the Pulitzer Prize he won 70 years ago.
Any move to revoke the award won by Walter Duranty of the New York Times
in 1932 would further vindicate Gareth Jones, who first exposed the 1932-33
Ukrainian famine in which millions died - an event Duranty denied had
Campaigners have been bombarding the prize's committee with postcards and
e-mails demanding Duranty, who died in 1957, be stripped of the prize, and a
review is now reported to be under way.
When Jones, who wrote for The Western Mail, announced at a press conference
in Berlin March 29, 1933 that millions were starving in Ukraine as a result
of Stalin's five-year-plan, several foreign correspondents rushed to rubbish
The most vocal was Walter Duranty of the New York Times, who had won a
Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for his own reports on Stalin's Russia.
He dismissed Jones's eye-witness account as "a big scare story" and insisted
there was "no actual starvation".
In May 1932 the New York Times printed Mr Jones's response to the
controversy. In a furious attack on the coterie of foreign correspondents,
Mr Jones congratulated "the Soviet Foreign Office on its skill in concealing
the true situation in the USSR."
Now a campaign organised by Ukrainians worldwide is putting pressure on the
board of the Pulitzer Prize to reconsider Duranty's award.
The campaign has been given added momentum by the present-day problems at
the New York Times, where the editor and managing editor have been forced to
resign over a scandal involving 27-year-old reporter Jayson Blair, who has
admitted fabricating dozens of articles for the paper.
The 18-member board which decides the awards, one of the most prestigious in
world journalism, is now conducting a secret review of Duranty's award.
Gareth Jones, who was born in Barry in 1905, was regarded as one of the most
talented journalists of his generation.
He wrote for The Western Mail, The Times and The Manchester Guardian as well
as the Berliner Tageblatt and American newspapers.
He travelled through Russia and Ukraine in the early 1930s and was shocked
at the famine conditions he encountered.
An estimated seven to 10 million people died between 1932 and 1933, an event
Ukrainians call the Holodomor.
His career survived the controversy over the Ukrainian reports, but his life
was tragically cut short when he was murdered by bandits in 1935 while
travelling in Inner Mongolia. He was just 29 years old.
Mr Jones's niece Dr Siriol Colley has written a book about her uncle's life,
A Manchukuo Incident.
She has been inundated with calls and e-mails from Ukrainian campaign groups
keen to set the record straight on what they regard as their biggest
She said, "Gareth was a man of integrity. He wanted to promote the fact that
Stalin, and his five-year plan, was going badly wrong.
"The revoking of the award is a token and acknowledgement of the terrible
famine - the Holodomor - which the world had no idea about - the facts which
were suppressed by Stalin, his cohorts and Duranty was the medium to
misinform the world press."
Her son Nigel Colley has suggested Gareth Jones should be posthumously
awarded the prize.
One of the campaigners for the revocation of the prize is Dr Natalia
Pylypiuk, an academic based in Edmonton, Canada.
Her mother, Anna Wlasenko, 12-years-old in 1933, survived the famine,
despite being assumed dead and thrown into a mass grave.
In her letter to the Pulitzer committee she wrote, "As my family sits down
in October to celebrate her 82nd birthday and to commemorate all those
grandparents, uncles, and aunts who did not survive 1933, there could be no
greater gift than being able to announce that, finally, Mr Duranty's
unworthiness has been acknowledged by the Pulitzer committee."
Writing about Duranty in the 1970s, Guardian correspondent Malcolm
Muggeridge, who also reported on the famine - anonymously - at the same time
as Jones, said, "He admired Stalin and the regime precisely because they
were so strong and ruthless. 'I put my money on Stalin' was one of his
The Pulitzer board has only ever revoked a prize once, in 1981. Washington
Post reporter Janet Cooke's story of an eight-year-old ghetto boy already
addicted to heroin was revealed to be a fabrication.
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