"What happened in the 1930s is genocide and what is happening now is also genocide," said Ganna Pertchouk, a retiree who came to a religious ceremony in memory of the victims of the Holodomor (extermination by hunger). "The parallels are very clear."
Behind her, a Great Famine memorial, shaped like a giant candle, rises in the mist on a hill overlooking the Dnipro River.
A dozen Orthodox priests dressed in black and silver robes prepare to perform their service outdoors, despite near freezing temperatures.
Archbishop Filaret, 93 years old and with a long white beard, lays a bouquet of red carnations in front of a monument representing an emaciated girl who presses ears of wheat against her chest before launching the ceremony.
“We pray for those who perished from famine,” sings a priest. "Eternal memory", sings the choir composed of a dozen faithful.
- "Victory over Evil" -
“The Holodomor was not the result of a bad harvest, but the intentional extermination of the Ukrainian people,” says Filaret.
Nicknamed "the granary of Europe" for the fertility of its black soils, Ukraine lost four to eight million inhabitants in the great famine of 1932-1933, orchestrated according to historians by Stalin to suppress any desire nationalist and independentist of this country, then Soviet republic.
This drama is officially considered a "genocide" by kyiv and several Western countries, a term fiercely rejected by Moscow.
Like many Ukrainians, Ms. Pertchouk has family memories. Her mother-in-law, who was a little girl at the time, told her how her family hid her in a village in the kyiv region "so that she wouldn't be eaten" by neighbors driven mad by hunger, while cases of cannibalism were recorded among the population.
"Imagine this horror!" launches, tears in her eyes, this 61-year-old former nurse who says "pray for our victory, which will be the victory over Evil".
"It was an artificially created genocidal famine... Now that we are living through this massive war launched without provocation by Russia against Ukraine, we see history repeating itself," echoed priest Oleksandr Shmourygin, 38 year.
- Putin after Stalin -
"At the time they exterminated the Ukrainians by starvation, today they exterminate us with heavy weapons" by bombing "peaceful cities" and "our energy infrastructures", adds this 38-year-old man.
Because against a backdrop of military setbacks, Russia has been pounding Ukrainian installations since October, depriving millions of Ukrainians of electricity, heating and water as winter sets in in this country.
The city of kyiv was among the most affected by these cuts with some 600,000 homes without electricity on Friday evening two days after a last wave of bombardments.
Among those gathered to commemorate the victims of the famine, lawyer Andriï Savtchouk, 39, evokes an "irreparable" loss for Ukraine.
"Stalin's system, the repressive state wanted to destroy Ukraine as a nation. Today we see that Stalin's efforts are being continued by (President Vladimir) Putin," he said.
But if "the Ukrainians were able to hold out" in the 1930s, they "will hold out" against Moscow, he assures us. "We have an unyielding will and confidence. And the whole world is with us".