24 Nov 2013

80th anniversary of Ukraine famine marked

6:12 am on 24 November 2013

People in Ukraine are marking the 80th anniversary of a Soviet-era famine known as the Holodomor: "Death by Hunger".

At least three million people died during the winter and early spring of 1932 and 1933. Some historians say the actual number was much higher.

Many Ukrainians believe the famine was a genocide organised by Joseph Stalin to force people into collective farms. But Russia insists to this day that the deaths - while tragic - were not intentional and other regions in the Soviet Union suffered at that time.

A Holodomor Remembrance Day every year on the fourth Saturday of November.

The BBC reports entire villages were wiped out, and in some regions the death rate reached one-third.

Cities and roads were littered with the corpses of those who left their villages in search of food, but perished along the way. There were widespread reports of cannibalism.

This year's Remembrance Day featured a number of different ceremonies and prayer services, as well as the world premiere of a Holodomor opera, Red Earth Hunger, by Virko Baley, an American composer who was born in Ukraine.