MINELRES: Rusyns Recognized in Transcarpathian Oblast of Ukraine

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Tue Jun 5 19:11:46 2007

Original sender: Elaine Rusinko <rusinko@umbc.edu>




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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