Russian and pro-Russian mass media have reported that Carpatho-Rusyns allegedly continue their struggle for the federalization of Ukraine. This statement does not correspond with reality, leaders of the three main Carpatho-Rusyns organizations declare.
On August 10 the Rusvesna.su website published a report about a Congress of Rusyn and Hungarian communities of the Transcarpathia Region that had supposedly taken place in Budapest. Congress delegates allegedly decided to appeal to the EU, the UN, Hungary, the US and Russia, asking for help in gaining recognition of the results of the 1991 referendum on the federal status of the Transcarpathian Region in Ukraine.
This news was also actively disseminated on various forums.
Carpatho-Rusyns refuted this information and referred to the delegates of so-called “congress” as impostors.
Transcarpathian news portal Holos Karpat (Voice of the Carpathians) interviewed leaders of three Carpatho-Rusyn organizations. Mykola Bobinets of the Territorial Community of Carpatho-Rusyns, Yuriy Prodan of the Dukhnovych Transcarpathian Regional Scientific and Culturological Society and Mykola Starosta of People’s Council of Transcarpathian Ruthenia commented on the “congress” in Budapest.
Mykola Bobinets: “First of all, this congress is illegitimate, because they were not our people. They are people who live abroad. We do not want that our destiny – the destiny of the Rusyns – should be decided by people who do not live on our land and do not worry about the future of our land and about the future of the Rusyns. Now we have a very unpleasant situation when a lot of young healthy people from Luhansk and Donetsk Regions are coming to our region. I understand that women, children and the aged have a right to leave behind those difficult conditions in the Donbas. But, firstly, instead of resting here, their young men have to defend their land. When I saw those people sitting in the presidium, allegedly representing Transcarpathia, I thought, they are not used to do something voluntarily, but only for the money. It is very upsetting that people from abroad want to make money from Transcarpathia’s problems. But our man, our Rusyn, who lives in Transcarpathia, does not want either problems or war. And I think that any attempt to provoke problems in our beautiful land will get nowhere. And one more thing: we should take into consideration not only Rusyns, but also other people who invested a lot of health, nerves and money so that our Transcarpathia would be as it is now. These people also are not interested in such events. All the more now, when we see that unpleasant situation in the Donbas. I am sure that no one will support actions that may cause destabilization. Glory to the Rusyns, fathers and sons!”
The second interviewee, Yuriy Prodan of the Dukhnovych Transcarpathian Regional Scientific and Culturological Society, said: “No congress consisting of three men, let’s say five at the most, can represent the interests of all the people. On top of that, no Rusyn organization from Transcarpathia delegated to these persons the authority to decide our destiny. In difficult times every nation has its turncoats. But the main business of this congress was to sell out this land. It is our enemy Vladimir Putin who in the first place will profit from this congress. And it is for his profit that this business was set up. Rusyns and Hungarians were living under the Hungarian crown for a thousand years. There were problems but we were living peacefully. Our families, our religions, are interconnected. We still have tolerant relations, a Hungarian treats a Rusyn with tolerance. And this will be forever. I’d like to say proudly – I am Rusyn, but I’d like to add proudly – I am a citizen of Ukraine.”
The third interviewee, Mykola Starosta from the People’s Council of Transcarpathian Ruthenia, said: “There was no video footage from that congress, only a few photos of the presidium. There are no photos of the hall. It is clear that there is no hall. All this was made up in order to create an informational lie. Rusyns are divided into two groups: European and pro-Russian. It is necessary to know that the pro-Russian group is very small. I’d like to emphasize that we Rusyns were living here with Hungarians for a thousand years and will be living in peace and harmony. Most interesting is that they found radical, as the saying goes, pro-Russian Hungarians, who do not represent any political power here in Transcarpathia, because Jobbik [a leading Hungarian radical right-wing party – editor] has very little support here. We understand this, we know this. The problem is that the information war is aimed at destabilizing our situation. We understand that Carpathia is of great geopolitical interest to Russia. That’s why all this was done. I think that patriots of our land who want to prevent war should consolidate their efforts. And we should show society and Russia that we have been living here peacefully and want to continue living that way. Under the auspices of the regional administration we should hold a congress of Rusyns, Hungarians, Romanians and Slovaks in order to show what it is that we really want. In this situation any talk about autonomy is a provocation. You see, this is the wrong time for that. It is time that we talk about this and think about this. I believe that the government is really ready to grant more authority to local communities. If they ensure that our culture, our national traditions will be preserved, we need nothing more. We are recognized by twenty-two countries. We are heading toward Europe and ethnic communities are of top priority in Europe. And, I say, that if we are heading toward Europe, sooner or later it will make Ukraine recognize us. I am absolutely positive that it will be so. At this moment we should not speculate about this. The only consequence will be war, and war we do not need. There will be provocations. I have information that a congress or festival, which will have political purposes, is planned for Transcarpathia in the near future. Now they need a “picture” for Russians in order to show that there are people here who stand for autonomy or even more than autonomy – for independence. I’d like to warn about fakes and provocations. At this moment our government should act. They have to gather representatives of all ethnic minorities and make a serious statement. They have to prevent what may happen.”
There was a time when Rusyns really raised the issue of autonomy, but now this discussion has been put on hold. The fear of war made Rusyns change their mind.
Several interesting moments in this report should also be noted.
Firstly, judging by photos, only six persons were present at the congress of Rusyns and Hungarians. Here is the entire congress. If there were more delegates, producers of this report would have included photos of the hall as well. There is a photo on which one of these six representatives is talking to some elderly people in the street. But it is difficult to understand who these people are. They may be Rusyns, journalists or tourists.
Let’s assume that those six people represent all the Rusyns and Hungarians of Transcarpathia. But here is the second important moment – none of these six participants of the “congress” were mentioned by name. This is strange at the very least. If “congress” delegates address the UN, the EU and the US, making statements in the name of large communities, they should at least identify themselves.