The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)


By Tom Vesey, Washington Post Staff Writer
The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.
Monday, September 17, 1984

Waving banners, flags and placards, thousands of Ukrainian-Americans marched through Northwest Washington yesterday to protest what they say is suppression of Ukrainian culture by Russians.

(Click on images to enlarge them)

Many of the marchers waved blue and yellow Ukrainian flags, and carried placards that read "Stop Russian Bestiality" and depicted a Russian bear devouring the Ukraine. After starting at the monument to the 19th century Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko at 22nd and P Streets NW, the demonstrators, estimated by U.S. Park Police to number about 4,500, marched to Lafayette Square, with a stop at 16th and K Streets NW, near the Soviet Embassy.

At 16th and K, many of the protestors, prohibited by District law from protesting within 500 feet of an embassy, shouted anti-Russian slogans and sang Ukrainian songs.

"Ukrainia will never die," said one women translating the words of a hymn the crowd was singing. "The Enemy will dry up like dew in the sun."

March organizers said police arrested one man who had separated from the crowd and threw red paint over the fence at the Soviet Embassy on 16th Street. Ukrainians marching in the demonstration said the man was a Ukrainian who had defected from the Soviet Union two years ago.

Marchers, many of them wearing embroidered Ukrainian clothing, said Russians have long suppressed the Ukrainian culture and language in favor of their own, but the suppression has been more vigorous in recent years. Many also said Russia was to blame for the starvation deaths of millions of Ukrainians in 1932 and 1933, by withholding food supplies.

One man marching in the crowd, 66-year-old Stefan Kocer, said he had traveled from Yonkers, N.Y., to protest, "Russification--taking the Ukrainian language away." Kocer said he had left the Ukraine in 1941, and that the Russians had burned down his native village of Usttryki in 1945.

Nina Strokata-Karavansky, a member of the Ukrainian Helsinki monitoring group who left the Soviet Union with her husband in 1979, said she had spent four years in prison for supporting her husband, a dissident who served for more than 30 years in prison.

Holding a small United States flag and speaking with the help of a translator, Strokata-Karavansky, who now lives with her husband in Royal Oak, Md., said children were being taught the Russian language in schools and that universities in the Ukraine were teaching in Russian. People like she and her husband, who protested the "Russification" of the Ukraine, were frequently imprisoned and banished from their homeland, she said.

James Mace, a research associate at Harvard University, who studies the Ukraine, was at the rally speaking to many of the Ukrainians. He said Ukrainians have a country, "the size of France and more people than Poland, and very few people have heard of them."

The Ukraine, who capital is Kiev, has a population of about 50 million, about 20 percent of the Soviet population. Long dominated by the Russians, the Ukrainians set up their own government during the Russian Revolution in 1917, but became part of the Soviet Union in 1922.

Many of those demonstrating in the crowd yesterday said they had fled the Ukraine during World War II, when the country was occupied by the Germans.

The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Monday, September 17, 1984

Historical material researched, complied and edited by the  Information Service (ARTUIS) in Washington, D.C. and Kyiv, Ukraine