Russian officials and pro-Kremlin commentators have reacted angrily to the decision of the US Senate to pass a resolution stating that the 1932-33 terror famine in Ukraine was “a planned action of Stalin’s totalitarian regime which was directed against the Ukrainian people and was a genocide.”
In general, these attacks on the American action have been based exclusively on the notion that “neither Stalin nor the communist party had any plans for the destruction of Ukrainians. And no one intentionally destroyed anyone: there was a famine and it affected not only the population of Ukrainian oblasts but territories populated by Russians and others.”
But in making that argument, which Ukrainian researchers and scholars from Robert Conquest to Anne Applebaum have shown to be specious, some Russian writers, like Anatoly Baranov as quoted above, advance an additional one that deserves to be mentioned because it is even more damning of the Soviet system.
Baranov entitles his diatribe against the US Senate’s action, “They’re accusing us of committing genocide against ourselves,” a view that narrowly suggests that for him Ukrainians and Russians are one and the same but more broadly indicates the approach of the Soviet government toward the entire Soviet population.
That too may seem superficially plausible to some. It is difficult if not impossible for many to imagine that the leadership of any country could engage in genocide against its own people.
Tragically, however, that is exactly what the Soviet leadership did, either because it did not view the peoples of the USSR as its own people but rather only a base for the launch of a world revolution or because it did not view members of particular classes as its own people, or because it did not view members of many nations, including Russians, as its own people either.
It is a welcome development that the US Senate by its resolution has provoked the reflections, albeit negative, among some Russian supporters of the Soviet system – and Baranov is one of them – because it highlights something most people in Russia and the West are unwilling to admit.
And that is this: The Soviet government was not a government of the people however much support it may have been able to claim as a result of compulsion and propaganda but rather an occupying force that behaved toward those under its power not as “its people” but rather in the way occupiers have all too often behaved toward the occupied.
Even more unfortunately, that is an attitude that continues to inform the thinking of many in the Putin regime who are more concerned with exploiting the peoples still under its control for the benefit of those in power rather than with reflecting the interests of this population and promoting its interests.
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Tags: crimes against humanity, crimes of the Soviet communist regime, genocide, History, Holodomor, Holodomor genocide recognition, Russia, Russia-US relations, Soviet genocide, Soviet history, Stalin, Stalinist repressions, U.S. Senate, Ukraine, Ukraine-US relations, Ukrainian history