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Thursday, February 26, 2009

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Russia: Famine that killed millions not genocide
Russia issued a DVD and a thick book of historical documents on Wednesday to dispute claims that the Ukrainian famine of the 1930s amounted to genocide.

Russian archivists and historians pressed the Kremlin's case that the Stalin-era famine — which killed millions of people — was a common tragedy across Soviet farmlands, countering efforts by Ukraine's pro-Western president to convince the world that Ukrainians were targeted for starvation.

"Not a single document exists that even indirectly shows that the strategy and tactics chosen for Ukraine differed from those applied to other regions, not to mention tactics or strategy with the aim of genocide," said Vladimir Kozlov, head of Russia's Federal Archive Agency.

He said the famine was a direct result of Josef Stalin's brutal collectivization campaign and the widespread confiscation of grain that was exported to secure equipment needed for the Soviet dictator's frenetic industrialization drive.

Kozlov said the policy was class-based, targeting the kulaks — wealthy farmers seen as enemies of Communism — and was implemented virtually identically across the Soviet Union.

"There were no national or ethnic undertones," he told a news conference at the headquarters of state news agency RIA-Novosti.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko contends the famine was aimed at rooting out Ukrainian nationalism.

"Hunger was selected as a tool to subdue the Ukrainian people," he said at a November ceremony marking the anniversary of what Ukrainians consider the onset of the 1932-1933 famine.

US rabbi leaves Russia after losing appeal
JERUSALEM (JTA) -- An American rabbi left Russia after a Russian district court upheld a ruling ordering his expulsion.

The district court in Vladivostok ruled Feb. 12 that Silberstein violated the terms of his visa by serving as a religious leader. His visa had been issued for promoting cultural ties, according to Russia's Interfax agency.

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