"NO"! TO STALIN AND HIS FLAG

19.05.11


In a letter dated 18 May 2011, the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) has called upon the European community to demand that the Ukrainian government authorities immediately denounce the glorification of Stalinism and cease promoting symbols of the Communist totalitarian regime. A letter to this effect has been sent to: а) the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek; b) the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy; c) the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso; d) the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland; e) the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Audronius Ažubalis; f) the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle; g) the Chair of the European Parliament Delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, Pawel Kowal; h) the Chair of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights, Heidi Hautala; i) the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg; and j) the OSCE Director of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Janez Lenarčič.

The UWC notes that Ukraine began chairing the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 11 May 2011, and that it will chair the OSCE in 2013. The UWC stresses that it is imperative that such institutions be chaired by states that espouse and aspire to Europe’s vision of society based on the principles of democracy. It points out that fundamental pan-European ideals have been forged through Europe’s common history, especially in the 20th century. They include freedom, the rule of law, respect for human rights and, as a consequence, the rejection of totalitarian regimes, both past and present. 

The UWC also refers to several declarations and resolutions based on these principles and ideals, in which Europe has condemned Stalinism and the Communist totalitarian regime, particularly the following: the Declaration of the European Parliament on the proclamation of 23 August as European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism (23 September 2008); the European Parliament resolution of 23 October 2008 on the commemoration of the Holodomor, the Ukraine artificial famine (1932-1933); the European Parliament resolution of 2 April 2009 on European conscience and totalitarianism; the Resolution on Divided Europe Reunited: Promoting Human Rights and Civil Liberties in the OSCE Region in the 21st Century (the OSCE Vilnius Declaration of 3 July 2009); and the Resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe of 28 April 2010 Commemorating the victims of the Great Famine (Holodomor) in the former USSR.

Yet despite the above declarations and resolutions: 

a) on 5 May 2010, the Regional Organization of the Communist Party of Ukraine unveiled a monument to Stalin in Zaporizhzhia;

b) on 7 May 2011, the Union of Soviet officers put up a billboard in Sevastopol with the image of Stalin; and

c) on 21 April 2011, the Verkhovna Rada adopted an amendment to the Law of Ukraine “On immortalizing Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945” which introduces the concept of the “Victory Flag” – a red flag emblazoned with a star and hammer and sickle – that must be officially displayed on all buildings and raised on all flagpoles alongside the State Flag of Ukraine every May 9. It was under the red flag that Stalin’s Communist totalitarian regime conducted a genocide of the Ukrainian people, ruined Ukrainian churches, executed Ukrainian scholars and cultural activists, and crushed all expressions of the Ukrainian national spirit.

In view of Ukraine’s important symbolic role as the current chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and future chair of the OSCE, and given Europe’s fundamental opposition to totalitarianism as reflected in the aforementioned declarations and resolutions, the UWC urges the European community to demand that the Ukrainian government authorities immediately condemn all forms of glorification of Stalinism and cease promoting symbols of the Communist totalitarian regime. Any action short of this would undermine the well-established policies and principles of the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the OSCE aimed at denouncing all forms of past totalitarianism and combating any kind of neo-totalitarianism.

In a further statement the UWC President, Eugene Czolij, said that “the UWC calls upon all of its member organisations to support its appeal to the European community and to jointly demand that the current Ukrainian government authorities condemn the intolerable actions which glorify Stalinism and promote symbols of the Communist totalitarian regime".

The full text of the letter is available on the UWC web site at: http://ukrainianworldcongress.org/news.php/news/550/lang/en

The AUGB supports the stance taken by the UWC and urges all of its members to write to respective local MEP's in similar terms.

It would be unthinkable for a German parliament in this day and age to legislate that the Nazi flag should be flown over all national buildings beside the German flag on a day of national remembrance. What, then, could possibly have possessed Ukrainian parliamentarians to believe that it is acceptable to take a decision to effectively glorify Stalin, Stalinism and the flag that represented a prison of nations, cold-blooded torture and the incomprehensible mass-murder of millions in Ukraine and beyond during the Soviet era?  Was the Ukrainian Parliament's decision simply a mark of ignorance or misguided judgement?  Unlikely!  Downright blatant provocation?  Perhaps.  But who knows?

What is certain is that if Ukraine genuinely wishes to subscribe to becoming an integral component of a free and democratic European community, it must come to terms with the real history of the 20th century.  By the same token, Europe should not flinch here and now but should reaffirm its position (in very clear and unambiguous terms) on the unacceptability of the mass-repressions and murders that took place under the auspices of the Soviet flag.  It needs to be repeated that there simply cannot be any room in modern-day Europe for the remembrance or exaltation of tyrannical regimes of the 20th century!  Sooner or later, Kyiv will take note.

 

 

 



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