The Holodomor caused an extremely high mortality rate; in some regions it reached 20 to 25 percent of the population. Some villages in Poltava oblast, Kharkiv oblast, and Kyiv oblast were completely deserted by the spring of 1933. Most of their inhabitants perished, but some did manage to escape. In the fall of 1933 the Soviet regime began resettling those villages with Russian peasants, mainly from Orel oblast. Throughout the Soviet Ukrainian countryside agricultural work was barely noticeable. During the spring of 1933 armed detachments protected the state-assigned seed for sowing, and those peasants who were well enough to work the land received minimal rations. Only the first fruits and vegetables of the summer saved those who had managed to survive. But the mass effects of starvation, disease and accelerated mortality, and a falling birthrate became apparent for many years.
The fact that the 1937 Soviet census was officially declared invalid and not released suggests that its results indicated a catastrophic population decline as a consequence of the Holodomor.
The estimates of the number of how many peasants died during the Holodomor vary widely. At the high end the figure of ten million deaths has been cited, mostly by President Viktor Yushchenko. For many years seven million deaths was the number commonly used in the West. In the 1950s and 1960s some Western scholars (Dmytro Solovei, Mykola Prykhodko, William H. Chamberlin, and Vasyl I. Hryshko) estimated that there were three million to four million deaths, while Volodymyr Kubijovyč and Clarence Augustus Manning suggest the losses were two million to three million. In the late 1970s the dissident Ukrainian Helsinki Group suggested a maximum figure of six million victims. In 1981 the demographer Sergei Maksudov (pseud of Alexander Babyonyshev) determined that the population loss in Soviet Ukraine was 4.5 million. Subsequently Jacques Vallin et al essentially confirmed Maksudov’s figures with their estimate of 4.6 million deaths. Further refinements to their work have established a figure of 2.6 million deaths caused by ‘exceptional mortality.’ In 2008 the Institute of Demography and Social Research of the NANU established a figure of 4.5 million deaths: 3.4 million victims of exceptional mortality and 1.1 million non-births.