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Senedd pulls Gareth Jones video from event to protect his legacy

24 Nov 2023 4 minute read
Left, Starved peasants on a street in Kharkiv, 1933. Picture by Alexander Wienerberger – Diocesan Archive of Vienna. Right, Gareth Jones picture courtesy of the Gareth Vaughan Jones Estate

A video featuring Gareth Jones, the celebrated Welsh journalist, which was set to be shown at the Senedd this weekend has been pulled to prevent the hijacking of his legacy by fascists.

Jones is known for exposing the Holodomor – the appalling man-made famine in Ukraine in the 1930s.

He witnessed first-hand the terrifying and tragic consequences of Stalin’s rapid collectivisation policy and he determined to make the world aware of the millions of people dying across the Soviet Union.

This October, the Senedd recognised Holodomor as a genocide, and an event at the Senedd scheduled for Saturday 25 November to mark Holodomor Memorial Day was set to include a video featuring the unveiling of a plaque commemorating Jones at the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine, Kyiv.


Regrettable associations

Philip Colley, the great-nephew of Gareth Jones and the Literary Executor of the Gareth Vaughan Jones Estate, raised serious concerns with the Senedd about the inclusion of the video after discovering that the event in Ukraine was used to promote a controversial new book called Enemy Archives co-authored by Volodymyr Viatrovych and Lubomyr Luciuk. 

Whilst the video was confirmed to only feature scenes of Jones’ plaque being unveiled, the event itself included a notorious white nationalist and antisemite receiving a so-called ‘Gareth Jones Medal of Truth and Honour’.

In correspondence with the Senedd, Colley said: “I believe the whole ‘Gareth Jones plaque ceremony’ in Kyiv is now tainted. At that event, his name was used for the honouring of an antisemite and the event itself used as a platform for a member of the Ukrainian Far Right, Volodomyr Viatrovych, who continues his notorious campaign to whitewash the role of Ukrainian nationalists and others in the Holocaust.”

“Cutting out certain parts of the video cannot excise those regrettable associations,” he argued, and would have ‘legitimised’ a ceremony honouring people who continue to spread Holocaust division and disinformation.

Mr Colley said: “The Holodomor was an unimaginably horrific humanitarian catastrophe. The solemnity of the day should not be marred in any way by association with those who are using Gareth Jones to distort the history of the Holocaust.”

Colley offered his services to ensure that, should any future event take place to commemorate his uncle, it is performed in a way that does not cause any upset or offence.

After the decision was made not to show the video, Philip said: “I’m relieved that my great uncle will not now be associated with Far Right nationalists through the showing of this video. While the Senedd has laudable aims it is an unfortunate fact there are some profoundly worrying associations within the Ukrainian nationalist movement, some of which I have pointed out in a recent article concerning their involvement with my family.”

He added: “Gareth was a pacifist and an internationalist who sought to bring peace and understanding between all nations. I continue to work hard to promote his inspirational legacy both here and abroad, to support truthful, independent journalism and encourage those who, like my great uncle, are not afraid to speak truth to power.”


Restored legacy

Gareth Jones was the first foreign journalist to fly with Hitler after he became Chancellor, and was largely ridiculed and ostracised following his exposé of the Holodomor.

In 1999, however, his niece Dr Margaret Siriol Colley, discovered his diaries, notes and letters, and set about keeping his name alive. In 2005, she published Gareth’s official biography More than a Grain of Truth.

Jones’ restored legacy has grown over the past two decades, and he was the subject of the BBC Storyville ‘Hitler, Stalin, and Mr Jones’, and the 2019 feature film Mr Jones.

In 2022, Nation.Cymru’s Martin Shipton published a biography titled Mr Jones – The Man Who Knew Too Much: The Life and Death of Gareth Jones.

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