The object of the crime of genocide
According to the Convention, genocide is understood as certain “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such”. “According to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the term ‘national group’ refers to ‘a collection of people who are perceived to share a legal bond based on common citizenship, coupled with reciprocity of rights and duties’”.
The interpretation of “national group” gives grounds for viewing as the object of the crime of genocide a part of the Ukrainian people – the total of victims of Holodomor and of political repression in Ukraine during the period from November 1932 to August 1933, regardless of ethnic, religious or other features.
At the same time, the element of destruction of a part of the group lies in “the destruction of a considerable part of the specific group … the part of the group should be sufficiently large to have an impact on the group as a whole” The practice of the international tribunals demonstrates that for the action to be classified as genocide it is sufficient that the perpetrator of the crime intended to eliminate a significant part of the group. In determining what part of a group can be considered significant, both quantitative and qualitative indicators need to be applied. For example, the Trial Chamber of the International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia in a judgment on the case of Jelisic (1999) stressed that:
«82. /…/ As a crime directed towards a group, the genocidal intent is necessarily directed towards mass crimes. The genocidal intent must therefore cover a substantial part of the targeted group. According to the Trial Chamber, this can take two forms: 1) the intent can be to destroy a large number of members of the targeted group or 2) to target a limited number of selected people, whose disappearance would endanger the survival of the group”.
An analysis of demographic statistics undertaken by Ukrainian and foreign researchers indicates that the direct losses to the Ukrainian people as a result of Holodomor 1932-1933 according to some calculations constitute 3-3.9 million people, and according to others – 4-4.8 million.. The largest number of deaths is for the period under consideration (November 1932 – August 1933) since during the period from January to October 1932 tens of thousands died of starvation. In any case the number of people who died of starvation during the period in question is not less than 10% (according to other figures – 15%) of the total population of Ukraine. This percentage of the Ukrainian people is considerable and can be considered as the object of the crime of genocide in accordance with the Convention on Genocide of 1948.
It should be stressed that the secret resolutions of the Central Committee of the All-Soviet Communist Party [Bolshevik] (Item 26) totally changed the policy of Ukrainization and placed the responsibility for the food crisis not only on the peasants, but on the leaders of Ukrainization, marking the beginning of the elimination of Ukrainian national communists. During this period numerous representatives of the cultural, economic and political elite were repressed (cf. Items 39, 40 and 41). This had enormous impact on the development of the Ukrainian people. In describing the group, therefore, we should include not only peasants who died of starvation, but also those who died as victims of political repression.
According to the definition of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the case of Bosnia Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro, an “ethnic group” is “a cultural, linguistic or other clearly marked feature distinguishing a minority, both within the country, and outside it.”.
This understanding of “ethnic group” with regard to the position of Ukrainians living in Kuban and the events of 1932-1933 gives grounds for considering Ukrainians of Kuban as an ethnic group which became the object of the crime of genocide. The following arguments provide confirm the justification of this assertion.Ukrainization of territory with a dense population of ethnic Ukrainians had been the official policy of the USSR. According to the All-Soviet Census of 1938 there were 915 thousand Ukrainians in Kuban, this being 62% of the population. They had generally retained their language and culture. 729 thousand of them said that Ukrainian was their native language. In some areas of Kuban Ukrainians made up 80% or even 90% of the population, while overall in the North Caucuses there were 3,06 thousand Ukrainians.
The policy of Ukrainization was supported by the Ukrainian population of the North Caucuses Territory. The number of Ukrainian school students studying in Ukrainian schools increased from 12% in the 1928/1929 academic year to 80% in 1931/1932. The cultural-educational policy was developed under the management of the People’s Commissariat for Education of the UkrSSR and of Mykola Skrypnyk directly, and was funded from the Ukrainian State Budget.. However the secret resolution of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party from 14 December 1932 put an end to Ukrainization. Ukrainian cultural life in Kuban came under attack: all Ukrainian schools and publishing was now in Russian, newspapers and journals in Ukrainian were closed down, as in fact were many other Ukrainian cultural institutions. Many of the people working in them were repressed as enemies of the Soviet regime (Items 46. 47 and 48). Another secret resolution of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party from 15 December also stopped Ukrainization in other regions where there were dense populations of Ukrainians.
The elements of the crime of genocide
The death from starvation of millions of Ukrainian peasants as well as hundreds of thousands of peasants from Kuban was caused by the following actions of the Party-Soviet-economic leadership of the USSR:
1. The deliberate forced imposition of an unrealistic grain requisition quota from the 1932 harvest, despite the protests from Ukrainian leaders (Item 10);
2. The passing by the Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR [Sovnarkom] of the Resolution “On the protection of property of State enterprises, kolkhozes and cooperatives, and the consolidation of socialist property” (“The 5 ears of corn law”) (Item 11);
3. The Directive passed by the CC CPU on 29 October at the initiative of Molotov, and the telegram from Molotov and Khataevych from 5 November on intensifying repressive measures (Items 16 and 17);
4. The Resolutions of the CC CPU from 18 and of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Ukrainian SSR from 20 November ““On measures to increase grain requisitions» prepared by the Molotov Commission (Items 18, 19 and 20) and the resolutions of the politburo of the North Caucasus Territory Committee of the All-Soviet Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Russia, prepared by the Kaganovich Commission which ordered the confiscation of grain previously distributed, and the introduction of fines in kind.
5. The creation of “troikas” and Special Commissions which were given the power to carry out accelerated examinations of “grain cases” and to apply the death penalty (Items 21, 22)..
6. The practice of placing villages and kolkhozes on “black boards” at Kaganovich’s initiative, first in Kuban (through resolution of the politburo of the North Caucasus Territory Communist Party from 4 November (Item 4), and then in Ukraine (Resolution of the All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars of the UkrSSR from 6 December, (Item 23)).
7. Blanket searches of peasant’s farmsteads in December 1932 in order to find “squandered and stolen grain” on the basis of the resolutions from 18 and 20 November 1932 (Items 23 and 27), intensification of repression over “grain cases” in Ukraine (Item 28) and Kuban (Item 45).
8. The secret resolutions of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party from 14 and 15 December on intensifying repression against “saboteurs with Party tickets in their pockets” and stopping Ukrainization in Kuban and other regions with a dense Ukrainian population in the USSR . These resolutions set in motion repression of those Ukrainian communists active in all aspects of Ukrainization. (Items 25 and 26).
9. Deportation to the North of more than 62 thousand Kuban peasants for “sabotage” (Item 44).
10. The Decision of the CC CPU on confiscating seed funds from 29 December 1932, passed under pressure from Kaganovich (Item 27).
11. Stalin’s telegram from 1 January 1933 which demanded that grain be handed over and threatening with repression those who did not comply (Items 29 and 30).
12. The Directive from Sovnarkom and the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party from 22 January which imposed a blockade of those starving in Ukraine and Kuban and introduced patrol units at railway stations and roads (Items 32 and 33).
13. Through a government resolution from 17 February 1933, initiated by Khataevych and Postyshev, collection of seeds was carried out through grain requisitions, with a part of what was collected being given to those who confiscated the grain (Item 36)..
14. According to a Resolution of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party from 31 March 1933, initiated by Postyshev, food aid was provided only to those capable of working (Item 37).
15. The political repressions of 1933 against the intelligentsia and those communists linked with Ukrainization, initiated by Postyshev, and the campaign against ““skrypnykovshchyna” [from the name of Mykola Skrypnyk, a key figure in Ukrainization - translator] (Items 39, 40 and 41).
16. The total destruction of all ethnic-cultural forms of existence for Ukrainians in Kuban (Item 48).
In their entirety the actions listen here mean inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part (Article II (c) of the Convention). It is also possible to prove that these acts were deliberate. It will similarly be proven that Holodomor 1932-1933 was a crime against humanity since in the given circumstances the death of a significant part of the population took place as the result of the intentional deprivation of access to food (Article 7 § 1.b of the RC ICC).
The course of events which led to genocide can be briefly outlined as follows. After the unrealistic grain requisition quota was not met, Stalin placed the blame for this on the peasants who, in his view, had sabotaged the gathering of the harvest, and on the Ukrainian communists who had encouraged them in this. Party and government decisions were taken demanding that grain be returned, paid for in kind for labour from the next harvest. They also introduced fines in kind and allowed searches aimed at confiscating grain already distributed, as well as encouraging the GPU to intensify political repression through accelerated procedure and the use of the death penalty.
Blanket searches and other punitive measures did not bring the result, and therefore at the beginning of 1933, the peasants received an ultimatum: either voluntarily hand over all grain or be severely punished. For this searches and fines in kind were merged into one punitive action, with the peasants having all food confiscated. On 22 January 1933, a blockade was imposed preventing peasants leaving in search of food in areas which were in a better position. This led to mass starvation and the death of millions of people in the villages. At the same time a campaign of political repression was launched against Ukrainian national communists, those linked with Ukrainization. They were blamed for sabotaging the grain requisition quotas and were declared enemies of the people. Ukrainization was stopped, and Ukrainian cultural life in areas where there was a dense Ukrainian population effectively stood still.
Determined and forced russification of Ukrainians resulted in a formal reduction in their number. According to the census of 1937 3 million citizens of the Russian SSR called themselves Ukrainians (as opposed to 7.8 million in the 1926 Census). With the cessation of Ukrainization the younger generation of Ukrainians lost the possibility of preserving their own ethnic identity. It can therefore be said that in the case of Ukrainians from Kuban children of the group were forcibly transferred to another group (Article II(e) of the Convention.