Transcarpathia at the crossroads



July 17, 2015

Translated by Kristina Rus


“To burn the roadkill with red-hot iron! To jail and confiscate  property!” – this was the reaction of the people’s deputy of the Verkhovna Rada, Boris Filatov to the desire of Transcarpathian Rusyns to obtain autonomy from Ukraine.

Indignation of B. Filatov was caused by the reaction of Transcarpathians in social networks to the events in Mukachevo, where the militants of the “Right sector” staged a gunfight with police. Transcarpathians, anticipating irreversible plunge of the Ukrainian state into political and economic chaos, reminded Kiev about the results of the 1991 referendum in which more than 70% supported granting the region autonomous status. But Kiev ignored the results of the referendum.

And this is not the only act of treachery of the Ukrainian authorities against the Rusyns. Kiev stubbornly denies the existence of the Rusyn people, carries out propaganda and information war against the Rusyn culture and identity.

Kiev doesn’t think about what it is like when you think you exist, but you are told that you don’t. In this environment, Rusyns have lived for more than two decades. As soon as a charismatic personality emerges from the Rusyn society, able to rally Rusyns, the Rusyn movement becomes subjected to repressions, and its leaders are threatened with criminal prosecution (Dmitry Sidor, Peter Getsko).

The political blindness of the Ukrainian politicians is astounding! They think that with the language of a bully from the street they can intimidate entire peoples. Kiev laughed in contempt, calling the people of Donbass “Down-bass” and “Lu-gandon” [‘gondon’ means ‘condom’ in Russian]. The same B. Filatov called the inhabitants of Crimea “scum” who should be given any promises, and hung later. And now where is Crimea and Donbass? And will Rusyns want to live in the country, whose politicians openly call them “roadkill” calling “to burn them with a hot iron”?

The situation for Kiev is complicated by the fact that the Rusyn issue is closely related to the Hungarian issue. In March 2015 in Budapest a joint press-conference of representatives of the World Congress of Hungarians and the World Council of Subcarpathian Rusyns was held. They discussed the campaign to collect signatures for a petition against participation in the so-called ATO of Transcarpathian Hungarians and Ruthenians. First sent their appeals to the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, the second – to the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko.

The participants of the press conference warned that the forced conscription of ethnic Hungarians and Rusyns to UAF will provoke social tensions in the region and the growth of extremist sentiments, which is what happened.

Kiev has always tried to flood Transcarpathia with nationalist element, hoping to use it to suppress Rusyn-Hungarian social protest. Using the fact that the region borders with Galicia, the main importer of Ukrainian nationalism. Today in Transcarpathia there are a number of odious nationalist groups. For example, the “Carpathian Sich”, which promised to kill Hungarian politicians, if they will support Rusyns, and the “Right sector”. In Donbass members of the “Sich” and their allies “pravoseki” fought side by side.

Practice shows that Ukrainian national patriots are not so much involved in “Fatherland defense” as in crime. Commenting on the clash of the “righties” with the police in Mukachevo, Transcarpathian Governor Vasyl Hubal honestly said that the issue was about smuggling and that “redistribution of contraband flows should be dealt with legally” [!!!]. I.e. not contraband per se, but the actions of the militants of the “Right sector” for redistribution of  contraband flows were illegal.

Kiev could use the situation in Mukachevo to its advantage. President Poroshenko has said that no political force in the country should have arms (“Right sector” was established on the basis of political organizations with nationalist orientation), has threatened tough measures to all at fault.

Probably in the near future Transcarpathia will come under heavy pressure from security forces. Those who will suffer the most, are not the Ukrainian nationalists (they will simply be removed from the feeder, but not declared illegal), but Rusyns. They will lose the opportunity to freely express their views and to demand Kiev to respect their cultural rights.

Brussels will be told that granting autonomy to Transcarpathia under today’s circumstances will create additional challenges for the EU’s Eastern border (smuggling of goods and weapons), with which it will have to deal with. Directly or indirectly, but the Europeans themselves.

Then Hungary, the only country-member of the EU, supporting Transcarpathian Rusyns, will be forced to act alone, feeling pressure from Brussels and Washington, which triggered the destructive processes in the Ukrainian state.

The head of Rusyn movement, Peter Getsko, stressed that:

“The events in Mukachevo will lead “to consolidation of Rusyns. This is the first. The second it accelerated among the population the desire for autonomy of Transcarpathia. And this led to a third, unexpected, effect. Here it is. There is a radical Ukrainian nationalism, which includes the “righties”, and there is moderate. Now, since yesterday, moderates clearly and categorically distanced themselves from the radicals. This is a landmark event”.

And the head of the Ukrainian organization “Officer corps” General Vladimir Ruban said that “participants of this standoff are starting to fuel the counterweight to the Eastern conflict. This could result in a “Transcarpathian People’s Republic”.

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