Borderness and Famine: Why Did Fewer People Die in Soviet Ukraine’s Western Border Districts during the Holodomor, 1932–34?

Upcoming Events Login

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

Tuesday, January 12, 20213:00PM - 4:30PMOnline Event, Online Event
+ Register for this Event Print this Event Bookmark this Event


While the Holodomor affected all of Soviet Ukraine, not all regions suffered equally. Drawing on archives in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, as well as witness testimonies, my research demonstrates that the Soviet leadership’s relative sensitivity to the welfare of the population along Soviet Ukraine’s western frontier led the authorities to reduce the border districts’ grain procurement quotas and to prioritize them in rendering food aid – benefits that came at the expense of the republic’s rear areas. Combined with the smuggling of foodstuffs from Poland, such privileging led to markedly higher survival rates among the inhabitants of Soviet Ukraine’s “border belt.” These findings shed new light on the role of the Kremlin and the OGPU (political police) in the Holodomor; popular survival strategies and their effect on policy decisions; the impact of foreign threat; and the spatial logic of Stalinism.

Andrey Shlyakhter is a historian of the Soviet Union and its neighbours. His research explores the intersection of economic deviance, borderlands, ideology, and state power. He defended his dissertation, “Smuggler States: Poland, Latvia, Estonia, and Contraband Trade across the Soviet Frontier, 1919–1924” in October 2020 at the Department of History, University of Chicago. The dissertation forms part of his postdoctoral book project, Smuggling across the Soviet Borders: Contraband Trades, Soviet Solutions, and the Shadow Economic Origins of the Interwar Iron Curtain, 1917–1932. Currently Dr. Shlyakhter is a Petro Jacyk Visiting Scholar (Virtual Engagement).


Andrey Shlyakhter
Petro Jacyk Visiting Scholar (Virtual Engagement)

Ksenya Kiebuzinski
Petro Jacyk Program Co-Director, Head of the Petro Jacyk Central & East European Resource Centre, and Slavic Resources Coordinator, the University of Toronto Libraries

Main Sponsor

Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine


Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies

Holodomor Research and Education Consortium, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta

If you are attending a Munk School event and require accommodation(s), please email the event contact listed above to make appropriate arrangements.

Disclaimer: Please note that events posted on this website are considered to be public events – unless otherwise stated – and you are choosing to enter a space where your image and/or voice may be captured as part of event proceedings that may be made public as part of a broadcast, webcast, or publication (online and in print). We make every effort to ensure your personal information is kept and used in compliance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). If you have any questions please get in touch with our office at or 416-946-8900.

Newsletter Signup Sign up for the Munk School Newsletter

× Strict NO SPAM policy. We value your privacy, and will never share your contact info.