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Splitting a Minority Up – What Is the Truth?

Another academic publication on Rusyns was published ...





After three unsuccessful tries to reach the deaf-mute government in Kiev with their requests, on March 7th, 2007 the Zakarpat’ska Regional Council in Uzhhorod decided, in the area of Zakarpat’ska region of Ukraine in the historical Sub-Carpathian Rus, to acknowledge the RUSYN nationality!

Now Rusyns have been acknowledged also in Zakarpat’ska, which has been a part of independent Ukraine just since 1991, thanks to an election of the local Rusyns in a referendum for an independent Ukraine. But the Kiev-Halych “legal thieves“ and politicians kept stealing quite openly from Zakarpat’ska and discriminated the Zakarpat’ska Rusyns in their historic land! And this is how a 15-year long epoch of the fight for the Zakarpat’ska Rusyn rights in an independent Ukraine was successful: 80% of the regional MPs applied the rights that local autonomous bodies have, and, in spite of threats from Kiev, bravely accepted the decision about acknowledgement of the Rusyn nationality, by which they washed the shame off Ukraine as an undemocratic state.


Congratulations to all Rusyns on their victory!


Now it is time to make some further democratic changes in Ukraine and Zakarpat’ska for the sake of Rusyns as well as Ukrainians and all other nationalities in the country. The scarecrow of Rusyn separatism, created in Kiev on request of Halych nationalist radicals by Special Services, confused many for a long time. Time will show that the Kiev scarecrow is evidence of a scared government in Kiev.

Rusyns do not wish for any Rusyn separatism! The time has come to put away masks of the Halych thieves and the Kiev oligarchs, who ran groups of thieves in Zakarpat’ska.


Long live Ukraine, and kudos and respect to Carpathian Rusyn Rus!

Congratulations to all democratic powers of Ukraine, Europe, America and Russia for their support of Rusyns from Zakarpat’ska. This is also your victory, friends!

Prot. Dîmîtrij SîDOR,

Chairman of the Assembly of Sub-Carpathian Rusyns,

Member of the World Council of Rusyns for Ukraine


Splitting a Minority Up – What Is the Truth?


In a short period of time, in various issues of newspapers and on Slovak Television, an opinion was presented that the dividing of one national minority into two groups, Rusyns and Ukrainians in particular, is considered rather a negative phenomenon, which accelerates the process of assimilation. These are words of Mr Mikuláš Mušinka in a publication of the Social-Academic Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Košice, as well as in a program on Slovak Television entitled Kvarteto (Quartet), where Messers Čorňák and Krajňák (also “Ukrainians“) were dissatisfied with the present situation.


All these specialists in history need to be told that Rusyns have been living in Central Europe for over a thousand years. They have their history, their mother tongue, which they used to study in Rusyn schools already during Austro-Hungarian times. They had their Greek-Catholic Church, which since the 16th century has been their mother and school. When Alexander Dukhnovich was writing the first reader for Rusyns, there was no Ukraine at all. Rusyns were not interned with Ukraine. Mr Mušinka alone says that the present-day Ukrainians used to be Rusyns. He is right, but that was in the times of the reign of Great Lithuania.


Great Stalin turned from Asia towards the west, into Europe, and started sovietisation, and that is how Latvians or Estonians became Soviets, and also the fate of Rusyns started to change. The situation was speeded up by General Bendera of Halič, who openly argued against sovietisation. Ukrainisation was imported into the regions that were home for Rusyns: the Rusyn schools were changed to Ukrainian, the mother tongue was forbidden. After the war, the process of Ukrainisation was brought into Eastern Slovakia. As a consequence, the Culture Society of Ukrainian Working Class (later Association) was founded, which, in the political intentions of the time, was supposed to bring Ukrainisation to such a point where the Soviet leadership could be happy.


Our people – Rusyns, loyal to the message of their ancestors, did not accept Ukrainisation; nevertheless, the Rusyn schools were changed to Ukrainian and the Ukrainisation of Rusyn pupils began. Most Rusyns stayed quiet, they were rather passive. However, after the Velvet Revolution in 1989, we clearly announced that Rusyns had not forgotten the message of their ancestors, and, thus, in 1991; the Rusyn Revival in the Czechoslovak Federal Republic (now in the Slovak Republic) was founded. In the same year, at the census of residents, we explicitly stated we are Rusyns. We granted our people the opportunity to say “who is who“. We did not separate from anybody, we just clearly stated we are not Ukrainians but Rusyns.


And that is why I have to say: Please, you, scholarly doctors of sciences; we did not cancel the Culture Society of Ukrainian Working Class, and it is now too late to be sorry that its 40-year Ukrainisation work was in vain. People like Mušinka, Sopoliga and others, who write academic works about the history and culture of Ukrainians in Slovakia, are a product of their time. They were given a Ukrainian education and became Ukrainians. But the specialists in the field of Rusyn in Halič, the Sub-Carpathian area and Eastern Slovakia, must write the truth that can be looked for in the Hungarian archives, where you could learn why Rákocsi, the ruler of the Eastern part of Austro-Hungary, called himself the King of the Rusyns.


The government of Ukraine had not known the problem of Rusyns until the times of perestroika, as it was dealt with by Sovietisation and Ukrainisation. When seeking the truth, we need to be aware of the document of the government from March 16th, 2006, where a secret plan of liquidation of Rusyns is mentioned. The Helsinki Agreement about the rights of nations regarding national minorities was signed by L. Breznev alone, and time will show how Ukraine will realise it, as it wants to enter the European Union. However, we ask how Rusyns, Slovaks, Hungarians, Romany and others, who were declared Ukrainians, live there.


As much as the process of assimilation is concerned, Dear Scientists; it already began at the beginning of the 1950s, where, within Ukrainisation, Rusyn schools were cancelled, the Greek-Catholic Church was suppressed, and one was not allowed to proclaim oneself a Rusyn and officially use Rusyn, their mother tongue. That is when the process of assimilation started. In the Rusyn villages, a generation of Rusyn Slovaks grew up.


Do not talk about dividing the Culture Society of Ukrainian Working Class (nowadays the Association of Rusyn-Ukrainians in the Slovak Republic), after perestroika, it has only identified itself, and displayed the credit of its work. None of us wants the Ukrainians for our company, they were left alone and feed on Rusyns. They say “you can sing in Rusyn, we still register you as Ukrainians”. Well, the question is whether we will allow them that.

Michal BURCÍN, Humenné

August 21st, 2006

Another academic publication on Rusyns was published ...


... entitled Rusyns and Ukrainians in Slovakia in the Transformation Process (1989 – 1995) – Selection of Documents I. (UNIVERSUM, Prešov, 2005, 210 pages) by the authors PaedDr. Marián GAJDOŠ, CSc. and PhDr. Stanislav KONEČNÝ, CSc., historians from the Social-Academic Institute of the Slovak Academy of Science in Košice. The authors are, at the same time, members of the team dealing with the state programme entitled Nation, nationalities and ethnic groups in the process of a transforming society. Within this project, three more publications have been issued, all of them by the chief researcher of the project, an employee of the aforementioned institute, nowadays also the Head of the Institute of Regional and National Minority Studies, University of Prešov – Prof. PaedDr. Štefan ŠUTAJ, Dr.Sc. The publications were mentioned in our Narodny Novînky in 2004 and in Issue 1 – 5 / 2006, but you can also find brief information about them on our website, in the same column under this article.


In the preface of this book, is also written:

„... The term “transformation” has become the most frequent characteristic of the social development after 1989 in our situation. Nowadays, it represents a very complicated multi-layered process of the essential changes in many spheres of the life of the society... The legislative and executive of the transformation sufficiently respect the economical and social impact of the reforms on some specific regions and groups of population. These are a priori objectively disadvantaged and, on their own, they are not able to deal with the negative side of the realised changes on a socially acceptable level. It concerns the underdeveloped regions; the retired; young families; physically and mentally handicapped people; but, to some extent, also members of other racial and ethnic groups.


Even today, the field of national minorities represents a whole complex of questions, the democratic solution of which, for Slovakia, is always of a significant importance. Ethnic minorities not only influence many aspects of internal politics, life and the general atmosphere in the society, but also significantly determine the relationship of other states towards the Slovak Republic, towards its international position, prestige and the overall authority in the democratic world. From this point of view, the topicality of a high standard of ethnic policy based on the principles of civilian freedom and democracy is increasing...


Nowadays, it is typical that in the consciousness of Rusyns and Ukrainians, for comprehendible reasons, a feeling of historical injustice has been autonomously combined with real grievances evoked by real and imaginary problems of the present day. Their cognition and comprehension is an important precondition of a successful solution. This was why we decided to publish a selection of documents, related to the life of Rusyns and Ukrainians in Slovakia in the latest period of history, which starts with the events of November 1989...“


And really, in the latest publication, it is worth reading the initial article entitled The Development of Rusyns and Ukrainians of Slovakia and Their Reflections (Vývoj Rusínov a Ukrajincov Slovenska a ich reflexie), the article Splitting the Minority Up (Rozdelenie menšiny) or Demographic, Economic and Social Conditions in the First Years of Transformation (Demografické, ekonomické a spoločenské podmienky v prvých rokoch transformácie), as well as a selection of documents (some of them are very precious nowadays), among them: November 28th, 1989, Prešov: The Attitude of the Leadership and Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Culture Association of the Ukrainian Working Class; November 27th, 1989, Prešov: An Article by Alexander Zozuľák in the newspaper Nove žîtťa (The New Life), in which he talks about the first meeting of the Initiative Group of Rusyn-Ukrainians in CSSR dealing with reconstruction, as well as many others, which will certainly attract the attention of all those who are interested in the history of Rusyns and Ukrainians in Slovakia after the revolution year of 1989. This book should not be missing from the bookshelf of anyone who works in the sphere of the Rusyn movement. Those who are really interested can obtain the publication only at the Social-Academic Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Košice. It is necessary to remark that the second part of the publication will be issued shortly.

A. Z.



 The right of a representative organ of a specific region or territory to issue its own laws and decrees that are valid for the given territory as well as to function on the basis of self-rule. The word derives from the Greek autos (self) and nomos (rule). Autonomy implies the existence of a higher legal-administrative entity (a federal or unitary state with autonomous territories) and perhaps a lower one (an autonomous or self-governing territory). An autonomous territory is not a state within a state but a legal-administrative entity of a lower order. A classical example of an autonomous territory was *Subcarpathian Rus’/*Carpatho-Ukraine within Czechoslovakia between October 1938 and March 1939.

Rusyn demands for autonomy date back to the Revolution of 1848-1849 in the Habsburg Empire. At that time Adol’f *Dobrians’kyi called for an autonomous entity for Rusyns throughout the empire (see Petition of the Rusyns, 1849). This demand was in part fulfilled for Rusyns living in Habsburg Hungary by the short-lived Uzhhorod Civil District (1849-1850), popularly known as the *Rusyn District/Rus’kyi okruh. After this entity was abolished, Dobrians’kyi and other Rusyn activists continued during the second half of the nineteenth century to submit demands for autonomy to the Hungarian government. None were ever fulfilled.

At the close of World War I the government of the new republic of Hungary created in December 1918 a short-lived autonomous entity, *Rus’ka Kraïna. Within a few months, however, Rusyn leaders south of the Carpathians proclaimed their unification with the new state of Czechoslovakia (May 1919) on the basis of autonomy. The principle of autonomy was reiterated in the Paris Peace Conference’s *Treaty of St. Germain (September 1919) and in the Czechoslovak constitution (February 1920). In 1921 the Czechoslovak government drafted several proposals but in the end did not grant the promised autonomy to its eastern province, *Subcarpathian Rus’. Throughout the interwar decades Rusyn political activists in the European homeland and the United States protested against Czechoslovakia’s refusal to implement autonomy, and in 1936 the Russophile and Ukrainophile factions of the *Central Rusyn National Council jointly submitted to Prague a proposal for a law on autonomy.

The Czechoslovak government responded in June 1937 with what it called the first step toward the implementation of autonomy (Law No. 172) in Subcarpathian Rus’. It was not, however, until Czechoslovakia was forced to accept the Munich Pact (September 30, 1938) that Prague granted to Subcarpathian Rus’ its own government (October 11, 1938). The law on autonomy for the province was authored by one of its ministers, Iuliian *Revai, and ratified by the Czechoslovak parliament on November 22, 1938. The autonomous province, also known as *Carpatho-Ukraine, functioned until March 15, 1939, when its entire territory was reincorporated into Hungary. The Hungarian government initially stated an intention to grant autonomy to Subcarpathia, but its promises were never fulfilled. Throughout the World War II years Rusyn politicians, in particular Andrii *Brodii, criticized Hungary’s policy, but in vain. At the close of the war, when Subcarpathian Rus’, as *Transcarpathian Ukraine, was being incorporated into the Soviet Union, some Rusyn leaders hoped that their region might retain a degree of autonomy within the Soviet Ukraine or even Soviet Russia. Instead, the region was demoted to an oblast of the Soviet Ukraine (January 1946).

In 1990, during the last months of the Soviet Union, when the political future of that state was unclear, the administration of the *Transcarpathian oblast established a commission that proposed a plan for the region’s autonomy. During the presidential elections and referendum on Ukraine’s independence (December 1, 1991), 78 percent of Transcarpathia’s voters approved a question calling for the implementation of self-rule (samouprava) within Ukraine. Despite promises made by the Ukrainian authorities (including those of its first post-Communist president, Leonid Kravchuk), petitions from the Transcarpathian administration, and demands of deputies in the Transcarpathian regional parliament (Oblastna rada), Ukraine has not granted autonomy to the region.

Bibliography: László Balogh-Beéry, A rutén autonómia (Pécs, 1937); Hans Ballreich, Karpathenrussland: ein Kapitel tschechischen Nationalitätenrechts und tschechischer Nationalitätenpolitik (Heidelberg, 1938); Antonio Scrimali, La regione autonoma della Rutenia dopo il Trattato di San Germano (Palermo, 1938); Loránt Tilkovszky, Revizió és nemzetiségpolitika Magyarországon, 1938-1941 (Budapest, 1967), esp. pp. 145-254; Peter G. Stercho, Diplomacy of Double Morality: Europe’s Crossroads in Carpatho-Ukraine, 1919-1939 (New York, 1971); Ladislav Suško, “Rokovania o autonómii Zakarpatskej Ukrajiny od roku 1936 do leta 1938,” Nové obzory, XV (Prešov, 1973), pp. 33-59; P. Hod’mash, ed., Od avtonomnoï Podkarpats’koï Rusy do suverennoï Zakarpats’koï Ukraïnŷ (Uzhhorod, 1996).

Paul Robert MAGOCSIi
Ivan POP