Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Saturday, 22 November 2008

Ukraine honour for Welsh reporter

Gareth Jone
Mr Jones's career was cut short by his murder by bandits in 1935

A Welsh journalist who exposed Stalin's starvation of millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s has been posthumously honoured by the Ukraine government.

Gareth Jones, who was born in Barry, south Wales exposed the 1932-33 Ukrainian famine caused by the Soviet leader's infamous five-year plans.

Millions of Ukrainians starved to death but news of the tragedy was suppressed.

However Mr Jones wrote about it, and was given the nation's Order of Merit at Westminster in London on Saturday.

Fellow reporter Malcolm Muggeridge was the other reporter to reveal the truth behind the country's enforced starvation and both are now revered in Ukraine.

Both are now dead and were posthumously awarded their honoured at a special commemoration ceremony in Westminster Central Hall.

The awards were bestowed upon them by the Ambassador of Ukraine, Dr Ihor Kharchenko, on behalf of the President of Ukraine.

The orders are awarded for exceptional services to Ukraine, which include the promotion and defence of human and individual rights.

Margaret Siriol Colley
Dr Siriol Colley has written a book her uncle's eventful life

During his journalistic career, which was cut short by his murder by bandits in Inner Mongolia in 1935 when he 29 years old, Mr Jones was regarded as one of the most talented newspaper reporters of his generation.

He wrote for The Western Mail, The Times and The Manchester Guardian among others and during the 1930s travelled through Russia and Ukraine.

On his travels through the land where his mother had once lived, he was shocked to discover the famine conditions he encountered.

An estimated 7m people, including a third of Ukraine's children, died between 1932 and 1933, an event Ukrainians call the Holodomor.

At the time the Soviet authorities - and many western journalists - denied the nation's enforced starvation was occurring and Ukrainians themselves have only become fully aware of the events since the fall of communism.

However, Mr Jones announced that millions were starving in Ukraine as a result of Stalin's policies at a press conference in Berlin on 29 March, 1933.

Several foreign correspondents rushed to rubbish the story with 1932 Pulitzer Prize winner Walter Duranty of the New York Times dismissing his eye-witness account as "a big scare story".

Mr Jones's niece Dr Siriol Colley has written a book about his life, A Manchukuo Incident, and said: "The Ukrainian people have taken him to their hearts - they call him the unsung hero."

Fedir Kurlak, chief executive of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, said: "I'm sure Gareth would have known if he had been caught reporting on the famine that he would have faced certain death.

"As far as the Ukrainian community is concerned, anyone who has heard of Gareth's exploits will quite simply take his hat off to him, and regard him as an exemplary journalist."

From 1930, Mr Jones acted as a foreign affairs advisor to the then former prime minister David Lloyd George.

This led to a career as a journalist and as well as visiting the Soviet Union, he reported on President Roosevelt in the United States, on Mussolini's rise in Italy and the troubles in Ireland.

He was also in Leipzig the day Adolf Hitler was made Germany's Chancellor in 1933, and later flew with the dictator to a rally in Frankfurt and interviewed Hitler's head of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels.

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