NEW YORK—A group of incensed Ukrainian protestors gathered outside the New York Times headquarters in Midtown Manhattan on Friday, November 18, to demand the newspaper return the Pulitzer Prize won by former New York Times reporter Walter Duranty.
Duranty is infamous for his role in helping to cover-up the 1932-33 Ukrainian genocide, in which Soviet despot Joseph Stalin intentionally starved close to 10 million Ukrainians to death. Now, post "Orange Revolution" president Viktor Yushenko's government is building a center to commemorate the genocide, and the people of the Ukraine have requested that the Pulitzer medal be on display there as a symbol of the lies that helped to perpetuate it.
"As the Ukraine becomes more free, the president has created an institute devoted to preventing future genocides. We feel that the medal should be on display there," said Marko Suprun, one of the protest organizers. Suprun's father lost two brothers to the forced "famine," and said that, "As an older brother, he still feels saddened."
Walter Duranty worked at the New York Times Moscow bureau, and as such, developed strong ties to the Soviet government. As Stalin's power grew and he mercilessly tightened his grip on the region in his efforts to solidify the U.S.S.R., Duranty's reporting became useful in helping to strategically shape public opinion overseas.
Duranty was published in the Times November 15, 1933 edition saying, "There is no famine or actual starvation, nor is there likely to be." And previously on August 24 of the same year, "Any report of a famine is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda."
Not only did Duranty neglect to include any information about the true Ukrainian situation in any of his dispatches at the time, he attacked other fellow journalists who were attempting to report the truth. He called them outright liars.
The most famous of these was Gareth Jones, who worked for the British Foreign Affairs office in Russia, under the tutelage of former British Prime Minister Lloyd George.
According to the Web site (www.garethjones.org), "Even though Gareth revealed the truth, he was publicly denounced as a liar by several Moscow resident Western journalists, including the New York Times and incumbent 1932 Pulitzer Prize Winner, Walter Duranty."
"Throwing down Jones was as unpleasant a chore as fell to any of us in years of juggling facts to please dictatorial regimes—but throw him down we did, unanimously and in almost identical formulas of equivocation. Poor Gareth Jones must have been the most surprised human being alive when the facts he so painstakingly garnered from our mouths were snowed under by our denials," wrote Moscow-based correspondent Eugene Lyons in his 1937 book "Assignment in Utopia."
History has proved Duranty the liar.
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