On the third Sunday of May independent Ukraine annually pays homage to millions of innocent people whose life was cut short by the Soviet repressive totalitarian machine that destroyed our people with marked cruelty in the 1920s-1950s.
The 2 July 1937 Soviet Politburo decision “On Anti-Soviet Elements” started the “Great Terror” in the form of large-scale operations in the USSR. It sanctioned repressions against “kulaks” who had returned from exile and criminal delinquents. The “kulak operation” was launched under NKVD operation order 00447 and was one of the biggest components of the “Great Terror”. It further “purged” Ukraine after collectivisation and the 1932-33 Holodomor had already decimated the population.
The results of the “Great Terror” are hard to put in numbers. According to the Memorial society, in November 1936 through November 1938, at least 1.71 million people were arrested in cases opened by the NKVD, 1.44 million were convicted and 724,000 were shot. Additionally, “police troikas” convicted around 400,000 citizens as “socially harmful elements”. Moreover, 200,000 people were deported and no less than two million were convicted by courts under various articles of the criminal code, including 800,000 who were sent to the GULAG. In Ukraine, 198,918 people fell victim to Stalin’s terror in 1937-38, including 123,421 (62 per cent) who were shot. In analysing these horrible statistics, it should be kept in mind that every figure signifies not just one individual but an entire family.
In Kyiv the Memorial Day is annually observed in the horrible Bykivnia Forest, the place of last repose of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, Poles, Russians, Jews, people of other ethnic groups who were condemned to death by the tyrannical Stalinist government, often in retaliation for their desire to think like free individuals. In the 1930s-1940s, Ukraine was inflicted heavy losses. The Stalinist repressive machine destroyed all who attempted to resist it. Anyone — a peasant, intellectual, schoolteacher, engineer, worker or scientist — could fall prey to it… It was a time of disillusionment, despair, and hopelessness. Our memory and prayers must become the best homage to those who died, just as we must take daily care of the people who survived those horrible years… May our joint memories become a guarantee that such tragedies will never happen again.
It is surely a telling sign that monuments and posters of Joseph Stalin, one of the bloodiest dictators of the twentieth century, the main instigator of the bloodiest political repressions, should be emerging in Russian-occupied Crimea and areas of Donbas under Kremlin-backed militant control.