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Ukraine court finds Soviet leaders responsible for 1930s Holodomor famine

[JURIST] The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) [official website] announced [press release] on Thursday the conviction of seven former Soviet officials, including Joseph Stalin [BBC profile], on genocide charges stemming from the 1932-1933 Holodomor famine [InfoUkes backgrounder]. The court of appeals in Kiev reviewed evidence for two days before determining the officials' guilt, but chose not to pursue [Kyiv Post report] further criminal proceedings because all of the defendants are deceased. The decision follows the conclusion of an SBU investigation that began in May 2009 [press release] and relied heavily on declassified Soviet documents. Speaker of the Russian State Duma [official website, in Russian] Boris Gryzlov [official website, in Russian] responded to the announcement [Interfax report, in Russian], labeling it a politically motivated effort to incite tension between the countries.

Known as Holodomor, which translates to ‘murder by hunger,’ the famine is responsible for an estimated seven to 10 million deaths [BBC report]. Russians contend that the event was a byproduct of unfavorable conditions, though others believe Soviet policies that disrupted the production and distribution of crops are to blame. Ukraine has long sought widespread international recognition of the famine as an act of genocide, though only several nations have done so.

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