Ukrainian struggle for identity

The May 2 article ``Ukrainians await word from home'' about the nuclear disaster includes the statement ``Many typically American-looking teen-agers talk fluently in both Russian and English.'' This statement may lead some to believe that the words ``Russian'' and ``Ukrainian'' are interchangeable. The Ukrainian language, traditions, culture, and history are distinct from Russian customs. Would you substitute the word ``Russian'' for the word ``Polish'' or some other Slavic language?

Similarly, the Ukraine is not synonymous with Russia. It is a separate country which fought off invasions from neighboring countries for centuries and, like Afghanistan, was overrun by the Soviet Communists.

The Soviet Communist regime would like nothing better than to eradicate the Ukrainian language and its heritage. It has been attempting to do so for many decades through an intensive ``Russification'' program. Martha Onuferko DeBlieu Stockton, N.J.

My compliments to the Monitor for giving readers an honest update on the African famine [``Civil wars keep African nations from surmounting the famine,'' April 21]. The Monitor was one of the only American newspapers to report the truth about the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33. Seven million Ukrainians starved to death because of an artificially induced famine masterminded by Stalin, and the press hardly noticed.

Today the Ethiopian famine, much like the Ukrainian famine, has become a political instrument to eliminate opposition in the northern regions of Wollo, Tigray, and Eritrea. The Mengistu regime's refusal to provide adequate medical supplies or transportation to these areas, as well as its refusal to provide a ``food truce'' and ``mercy corridors,'' is a clear emulation of the extermination campaign launched against the Ukrainians in the '30s.

Certainly the generosity of many in our nation who have aided the starving in Africa must not be mocked by a Marxist government which diverts that aid to serve its own political purposes. The time has come to recognize that strategy for what it is -- genocide.

It amazes me that it has taken our nation over 50 years to finally believe what occurred in the Ukraine. I hope it will not take another 50 years for the American public to recognize that not all of the African famine is a result of an act of God. Debra Chaves Norwood Memphis

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