FSB General Denies Holodomor

A Federal Security Service general on Thursday dismissed as an "invention" a 1930s famine that Ukraine has asked Russia to recognize as genocide after Kiev urged the Kremlin to join in commemorations for millions of dead.

The dispute over the Holodomor, or mass famine, of the 1930s, in which historians believe 7.5 million died, is one of many pitting the Kremlin against Kiev's pro-Western leaders.

President Dmitry Medvedev stayed away from ceremonies to mark the 75th anniversary of the calamity last month and accused Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko of distorting history for political gain.

"The Holodomor is a Ukrainian invention," General Vasily Khristoforov, head of the registration and archives department at the Federal Security Service, or FSB, told Interfax. "Ukraine is trying to prove that the 1930s famine was an act of genocide that the Stalinist leadership committed against Ukrainians.

"Archive documents show undeniably that there was no deliberate genocide against the Ukrainian people. We have not found a single directive that would have even hinted about deliberate genocide against the Ukrainian people."

Researchers, Khristoforov told Interfax, had proven beyond all doubt that a famine in the late 1920s and 1930s did grip various southern Soviet regions.

"Yes, it did, but not only in Ukraine," he said.

About a dozen countries have recognized the Holodomor, one of three famines to hit Ukraine last century, as genocide.

Addressing a gathering last month at the opening of a monument to the famine, Yushchenko denied any suggestion Russia was to blame for the famine. But he called on Moscow to denounce Stalinism and join in commemorations for the dead.

Millions were left to starve in their homes throughout Ukraine as Soviet authorities trying to bring independent farmers to their knees imposed impossible harvest quotas and requisitioned grain and livestock.

Soviet authorities denied for decades that the famine had even occurred.