MINELRES: Rusyns Recognized in Transcarpathian Oblast of Ukraine
Tue Jun 5 19:11:46 2007
Original sender: Elaine Rusinko <firstname.lastname@example.org>
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Rusyns Recognized as Indigenous Nationality of the Transcarpathian
Oblast of Ukraine
Decision is a Milestone in Decades-Long Struggle of National Minority
Washington, D.C., May 31, 2007
- A landmark decision of Ukraine's Transcarpathian Oblast Council on
March 7, 2007, officially recognized the Rusyn people as an indigenous
nationality of the region. The council members, representing the
oblast's 1.2 million citizens, voted overwhelmingly to respond to the
long-standing requests of local cultural and political organizations to
acknowledge the existence of a distinct Rusyn nationality in the
Transcarpathian (Zakarpatska) oblast. The 90-member council voted as
follows: 71 for; 2 against; with 2
The decision to recognize Rusyns as distinct from Ukrainians means that
the oblast must now provide funding for the needs of the Rusyn community
in areas of language, culture, and education alongside funding for other
nationalities in the region, such as Hungarians, Romanians, Slovaks,
Roma, and Germans. The Transcarpathian Oblast of Ukraine, which borders
Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania, is home to over 100
nationalities and peoples.
Rusyns are an East Slavic people living primarily in the Carpathian
Mountain region of Slovakia, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine. Sizeable
Rusyn communities also exist in Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Canada, and
the United States. Rusyns are officially recognized in all of those
countries except for Ukraine.
The territory of Transcarpathia (historic Subcarpathian Rus') was a
semi-autonomous province of Czechoslovakia until after World War II,
when Stalin annexed the territory and outlawed the idea of a distinct
Rusyn nationality. Rusyns were declared to be Ukrainians, a condition
that has continued in independent Ukraine to the present. In spite of
the fact that the 2001 Ukrainian census did not include Rusyn as a
national category, 10,100 individuals identified themselves as Rusyn
rather than Ukrainian. Today Rusyns comprise approximately 65% of the
population of Transcarpathia, that is, 800,000-850,000 people.
Paul R. Magocsi, Chairman of the Slovakia-based World Council of Rusyns,
remarked, "The decision of the Transcarpathian Oblast Council is a
reflection of the success of the Rusyn movement and all those who have
worked on behalf of the Rusyn nationality both inside and outside
Ukraine." Magocsi's enthusiastic reaction was echoed by Rusyn
organizations in other countries of central Europe.
Valeriy Padiak, president of the Uzhhorod branch of the Aleksander
Dukhnovych Society, a cultural organization of Rusyns, immediately
praised the decision as a significant positive step forward. Rusyn
organizations in Transcarpathia will now look for government support of
Rusyn "Sunday schools," the establishment of a department of Rusyn
language and culture at Uzhhorod National University, support for
publications, conferences and celebrations of Rusyn traditional culture,
Rusyn programs on television and radio, and the introduction of Rusyn
language and history as elective subjects in public schools.
Local Rusyn leader and deputy to the Transcrpathian Oblast Council
Ievhen Zhupan welcomed the recognition, stating that since 1992 the
Oblast Council has requested the recognition of Rusyns as a distinct
nationality in Ukraine four times, adding, "Unfortunately, today Ukraine
is still the only country where Rusyns have no official status." He
called attention to the fact that Rusyns and Rusyn organizations
supported democratic change in Ukraine during the Orange Revolution.
According to Zhupan, "Transcarpathians will continue to build up their
region, support their country of Ukraine, love their native land, and
live in peace with others, regardless of their ethnic background."
The Oblast Council has said that it will refer the matter of nationwide
recognition of Rusyns in Ukraine to Ukraine's national parliament
(Verkhovna Rada), requesting that the parliament take the final step in
the matter and legally recognize the existence of the Rusyn people
countrywide. Such nationwide recognition would demonstrate Ukraine's
commitment to democratic principles and conformity with European norms.
# # #
Established in 2003, the Rusyn International Media Center is an
independently-produced online news service and clearinghouse for
Rusyn-related news items, articles, and other current affairs
information about Rusyns and developments in the Rusyn homeland.
For more information about Rusyns, visit the Rusyn International Media
Center website at
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