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Eight heads of state are expected to attend an international forum
Eight heads of state are expected to attend an international forum on Soviet-time famine in Ukraine, which will be held in the country's capital on November 22, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday.

Ukraine has been seeking international recognition for the 1932-33 famine, known as the Holodomor, as an act of genocide by the Soviet authorities.

Vasily Kirilich, the Ukrainian ministry's press secretary, said the presidents of the Baltic States, Poland and Georgia have officially announced they will be attending, and confirmations were still to be received from two European countries.

Kirilich said Holodomor commemoration events would take place November 17 through 22.

Estimates vary widely as to the number of deaths in Ukraine caused by the forced collectivization of the early 1930s, along with the devastating purges of Ukrainian intelligentsia, religious leaders and politicians under Stalin. Some sources cite figures of over 7 million.

In late 2006, Ukraine's parliament recognized the Holodomor as an act of genocide by the Soviet authorities, but Russia has consistently rejected Ukraine's interpretation of events.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that besides Ukraine the famine affected different ethnic groups in vast territories - the North Caucasus, the Volga region, central Russia, Kazakhstan, west Siberia and the southern Urals.

The United Nations General Committee refused last month to include the famine on its agenda, supporting Russia's recommendation to exclude the Holodomor from the UN session.

Russia accused the Ukrainian leadership of using the historical humanitarian tragedy for its own political ends, as well as to spread ethnic animosity and divert Ukrainians' attention from the ongoing political and economic crisis in the country.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution in October declaring the famine of 1932-1933 a crime "against humanity" but stopping short of using the word "genocide." In July 2008, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe also condemned the famine without recognizing it as an act of genocide.


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