CO-CHAIRMEN APPLAUD UKRAINE DECISION TO PROTECT BABYN YAR (BABI YAR) MEMORIAL
WASHINGTON--U.S.Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) today applauded Ukrainian officials for abandoning plans for a hotel project near the sacred site of Babyn Yar (Babi Yar), where over a two-day period from Sept. 29, 1941, more than 33,000 Jews -- half of them children -- were massacred by Nazis and dumped into a huge ravine. Between September 1941 and 1943, some 150,000 people, mostly Jews but also ethnic Ukrainians, Russians, Poles and Roma, were executed by Nazi troops at the wooded area on the outskirts of Kyiv.
"The city authorities of Kyiv deserve credit for their rapid response to concerns from human rights and Jewish groups on this issue. I applaud their swift action to overturn the city council’s insensitive decision and respect the memory of the victims at Babyn Yar," said Chairman Cardin, who last visited the memorial park in 2007. "I further commend Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko for his pledge Tuesday to protect as a sacred spot the site of the Nazi massacre.”
"Jewish groups, and human rights groups more generally, within and outside of Ukraine were right to decry the earlier ill-advised decision to build a hotel so near the site of these unspeakable atrocities," said Co-Chairman Hastings who also visited Babyn Yar in 2007. "Upon learning of this plan, the Helsinki Commission immediately expressed its concerns to the Ukrainian authorities. Such hallowed ground as the memorial is no place for hotels and commercial development. I welcome President Yushchenko's commitment Tuesday that the Ukrainian leadership ‘will not allow any defilement of the memory’ of those killed and ‘will ensure the proper protection of their place of perpetual rest.'"
Babyn Yar is now parkland which contains several monuments to victims of the massacre whose remains lie there.