Ukrainian ambassador: Jewish organizations facilitated US’s recognition of Holodomor as genocide

For a long time, opposition from Jewish organizations prevented the US from recognizing the Holodomor as a genocide of the Ukrainian people. However, Ukrainian diplomats and the diaspora have succeeded in convincing them peacefully, said Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Valeriy Chaly in an interview with Ukrinform.

“The idea was primarily to explain the significance of this matter to our partners from Jewish organizations in the US, from other diasporas. You know that at the time, they were wary of the Holodomor being recognized as a genocide and this tragedy being placed on the same level as the Holocaust of the Jews. I am sincerely grateful for the fact that the Jewish organizations in the US supported our idea after we explained the magnitude of the tragedy and the conditions of the attack first by the dictatorial regime of the Soviet Union and then by Russia against the people of Ukraine,” Chaly explained.

According to him, the primary difficulty achieving recognition of the Holodomor as a genocide was in Congress. “If I think back on when this matter was brought to the level of the House of Representatives, serious opposition from Russia began. The press secretary of the Russian Foreign Ministry at the time even said that it was unacceptable, and active pressure began on all sides,” Chaly noted.

The ambassador described how a massive opposition campaign began. At first there was picketing outside the embassy, although that was quickly put to a stop. Then there were cyberattacks, attempts to use fraudulent schemes, and then phone calls from “pranksters”.

“Indeed, after my meeting with the governors of the states who participated in the relevant proclamations, bots immediately began a stream of criticism against their accounts on Twitter and Facebook. There were also phone calls from pranksters who identified themselves as the Ukrainian ambassador to the US and said something along the lines of: ‘We met with you recently, reverse your decision’. In the end, I think, they just couldn’t keep up with us and, through joint activity with the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian organizations in the US, we managed to achieve our goals,” the diplomat explained.

“I’m not even talking about shady attempts to exchange Crimea for an end to the war, to oppose the imposition of sanctions against Russia’s aggression, or information attacks. At the end of the day, having failed to achieve a result, they decided to get revenge, and included the Ukrainian ambassador to the US on the Russian sanctions list. I consider it a peculiar reward for our diplomatic successes in the US,” Chaly added.

The ambassador explained that two years were spent developing a scheme to neutralize this opposition. “In order to divert attention and redirect the opponents’ opposition, we decided to work simultaneously in all states. It was a joint effort by the diplomats from the embassy in Washington, the consulates general in Chicago, San Francisco and New York, as well as American-Ukrainian and Ukrainian organizations in the US and our friends from other diasporas. We achieved a proclamation in each state recognizing the Holodomor as a genocide. Overall, it has now been done in 23 states. At the same time, which is also important, each state has thereby given a signal to its congresspeople and senators to support our initiative,” said Chaly.

In November 2015, the Ukrainian Institute for Demography and Social Studies of the National Academy of Sciences released data showing that Ukraine lost 3.9 million or 13 percent of its entire population due to high mortality rate in 1932-1934 as a result of Holodomor (famine).

According to the researchers, 8.7 million people starved to death during that period in the whole of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

  Ukraine, Holodomor