Ukraine has been seeking international recognition of the Stalin-era famine known as the Holodomor as an act of genocide by the Soviet authorities since its parliament did so in late 2006.
The European Parliament stopped short of using the word "genocide." Its resolution "recognizes the Holodomor (the artificial famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine) as an appalling crime against the Ukrainian people, and against humanity."
According to the resolution, the Holodomor "was cynically and cruelly planned by [Soviet leader Joseph] Stalin's regime in order to force through the Soviet Union's policy of collectivization of agriculture against the will of the rural population in Ukraine."
Estimates vary widely as to the number of deaths in Ukraine in the early 1930s caused by the forced collectivization, along with the devastating purges of the Ukrainian intelligentsia, religious leaders and politicians under Stalin. Some sources cite figures of over 7 million.
The EU parliament also urged "the countries which emerged following the break-up of the Soviet Union to open up their archives on the Holodomor in Ukraine of 1932-1933 to comprehensive scrutiny so that all the causes and consequences can be revealed and fully investigated."
Russia has consistently rejected Ukraine's interpretation of the tragic events.
The United Nations General Assembly refused in July to include in its agenda discussions on the famine, supporting Russia's recommendation to exclude the Holodomor from the UN session's discussions.
In July 2008, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe adopted a resolution that condemned the famine but stopped short of recognizing it as an act of genocide.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.