Part 2, Section 29 - Nationality Question and Ukrainian Separatism.



Since the dawn of history, the population of Lemkovina has considered itself part of the great Slavic family, and it has always called its nationality Russian [rusky/Ruthenian]. The names Rus', Russian [rusky], Rusyn, Rusnak have to this day been closely associated with the Lemko people and have been defended as the highest holiness. Lemkovina is a tribal branch of the great Russian people, who occupy vast expanses of the Earth's globe. Throughout history, Lemkovina, like other residents of the Carpathian Mountains, has often gone under the name Karpatska Rus', or Sub-Karpatska Rus', designating both the nationality of the people and the territory they occupied. To protect the historic name Rus', Lemkos have often had to fight and even sacrifice their lives, because enemies have tried by various means to tear this name away from them and saddle them with another so as to break them away from other Russian [rusky] peoples.
As for the origin of the name Rus', scholars have proposed various theories. It is commonly said that the word "Rus" was brought by the Varangians, while the word "Ross" comes from the Greeks. But some scientists claim that the word "Rus" existed in Russia as far back as the 8th century, that is, before the arrival of the Varangians. Still others hold to the hypothesis that the origin of Rus' lies in the Scandinavian word "dros", which meant "fraternity". They claim that the Normans, who appeared in Rus' in the 9th century, played a significant role in organizing the Russian [Rus'] tribes into a nation. One of those Normans, Rurik, played a guiding role in establishing a national center at Novogorod. Adherents of this theory maintain that at first Rus' was applied to the prince's family and retinue, later to the tribe, and finally to all eastern Slavic tribes and the territories where they lived. They cite the fact that even today, the Finns refer to Swedes as "Ruotsi", which means shore or coast.
The name "Rus'", and with it the people called by that name, has been tried in fire and blood and has endured to this very day. The Polish gentry bathed it in blood and scorched it in fire: the Germans tried to wipe it off the face of the earth. But its most fearsome enemy has been its natural brother - the independence minded Ukrainian, who for a penny sold himself into the service of its enemies and used every means suggested to erase the name "Rus'" from the face of the earth, and with it, its people.
In 1654, the great Cossack hetman and Russian [Ukrainian] patriot, Bogdan Zinovy Khmelnitsky, succeeded in uniting Little Russia [MaloRus'/Ukraine] with Great Russia. In 1709, to destroy this unity and split the Russian [rusky] people into two camps, another hetman, the Polish lordling, Ivan Mazepa, betrayed Peter the Great and, in the battle of Poltava, went over to the Swedish enemy with his entire Cossack army.
The name "Ukraine" was a later and merely local name, just like our Lemkivshchyna, Hutsulshchyna, or Kholmshchyna. Ukraine is only a part of the Russian [rusky] lands. It is dear to us just as are other names of Russian [Rus'] lands. It is from there that the famous Cossacks were recruited, those champions of an oppressed people and its faith. The word "Ukraine" cannot be used for all Little Russian [Ukrainian] lands, but only for that portion that lies at the border, the edge of the nation to which it belongs. This name does not apply to an entire nation nor an entire people. But to the enemies of the Russian people, this is not important. What is important to them is their goal of breaking up the Russian [rusky] peoples, of creating strife and hatred among them so as to weaken and conquer them. To our sorrow and our misfortune, our enemies have been able to find among us some blinded, greedy, and ambitious people, who for a penny, like Mazepa, began to deny the name Rus', Russian [rusky], Rusyn; took up a bitter struggle against their natural brothers and, by the same token, against their own people. What was primary for our enemies was to change the name Ukraine, and Ukrainian, from its previous territorial designation to a nationality title, to call all Little Russian [MaloRus'] peoples Ukrainian, thereby dividing Rus' and creating a nationality fight, in other words "turn loose Rusyn on Rusyn". Our greatest enemies have proved to be: the Polish gentry, the Austrian government and Germany.
As far back as 1848, the Galician governor, Stadion, changed the name of the Rusyns living in Austria from Russian [rusky] to Ruthenian (nicht Russe, russisch sondern Ruthenen, ruthenisch). In 1863, the Polish general Miroslawski called on Poles with these words: "Throw fire and bombs on the Dnieper and the Don in the very heart of Rus', let waste, ruin, and devastation fall on Rus'. Let us create argument and strife among the Russian [rusky] people themselves. Let them destroy each other with their own claws, while we increase in size and strength".
Those bombs and flames soon did fall on Russian [Rus'] land. The Austrian government gave birth to the Ukrainian party in 1891. In 1892, it introduced phonetics into Russian [cyrillic] script and forcibly pushed it into schools and offices. It gradually changed the term Russian [rusky] into Ukrainian. And to give the latter a scholarly basis, it commissioned gimnazium Professor Mikhail Grushevskiy to write a history of Ukraine, promising him promotion to a university chair. Grushevskiy drudged away on this history and, after some time, brought it out in print. There is a characteristic story to this history. Grushevskiy originally issued it in the Russian language as "History of Rus' ", in which there was not a single mention of any Ukrainian people, only Russian [rusky]. That was the first edition of this history. After a while, a second edition was issued in the Little Russian [Ukraininian] language as "History of Rus'-Ukraine", in which the term Russian [rusky] was retained in respect to Little Russians [MaloRusiv], with Ukrainian in parenthesis. Finally, a third edition was published in 1898, now "History of Ukraine", in which the term Russian [rusky] was replaced by Ukrainian throughout. This was the conversion that Grushevskiy's history went through. Nevertheless, all historians criticized it sharply as being false.
In the view of the Russian [Ruthenian] people, the political atmosphere in the Austrian state before World War I was oppressive and insufferable. The Austrian government was morbidly jealous of Russia and its people and regarded distrustfully all Slavic peoples living within its borders. Surrounding itself with all kinds of agents, spies, detectives and provocateurs, it terrorized the Lemkos. The most innocent show of cultural, educational, or economic life was considered an act against the Austrian state and was often brutally crushed. Rusyn institutions like reading rooms, cooperatives, student hostels, boarding schools were salt in the eyes of Austrian officials, who saw treason everywhere. Austrian gendarmes, loyal servants of the government, ran around like hound dogs through cities and villages sniffing out "Moscophiles" and stirring up provocations everywhere; they would then carry tales to the administrative authorities against completely innocent people. Under the cover of tradesmen selling holy icons, Ukrainian provocateurs would scamper through Lemko villages, go into people's homes and talk about political subjects, presenting themselves as friends of the Russian [Ruthenian] people and enemies of Austria. They would draw out a person's political inclinations, taking careful notes on everything, which they would then send, flagrantly edited, to the political authorities. In this way they compiled a list of "Moscophiles, who in the event of war will be ready to betray the most noble lord." On the basis of this list, all of the Lemko intelligentsia and hundreds of thinking peasants were arrested at the start of the war.

In such a political atmosphere, there were a number of arrests even before the war: the Orthodox priest Father Maksim Sandovich, born in Zhdynia, Gorlice County, just called to the parish in Gorbi, Yaslo County; Vasiliy Koldra, law student born in Sviatkova, organizer of reading rooms in Lemkovina; Father Mikhail Yurchakevich, curate in Chorneh; and many others. Their only crime was that they loved their people and worked for them. Father Maksim Sandovich and Vasiliy Koldra were sent to prison in Lviv, and in 1914 they were brought before the district court, together with Fathers Gudimiy and Bendiasuk, and were accused of treason against the Austrian state. This trial was known throughout Lemkovina, as hundreds of Lemkos testified as witnesses "and Ukrainian nationalists tried by all possible means to prove that the accused were guilty of treason. The trial lasted continuously for three months. Over a thousand witnesses were heard. The accused were defended by Dr. Vladimir Dudikevich of Kolomia, Dr. Mariian Glushkevich of Lviv, Dr. Kirill Cherliunchakevich of Peremyshl', and Dr. Aleksievich of Stanislavov (now Ivano-Frankivsk). All of the defendants were found innocent in the Lviv District Court and were freed.
Relations in the religious sphere were also not promising. At the request of the Austrian authorities, the bishops would not accept seminary candidates of a Russian [Ruthenian] orientation. At an election held in Peremyshl' in 1911, only one of 40 Lemko candidates was accepted, while in the subsequent years prior to the War there was not a single one. In that same year, among 300 students at the general seminary of two eparchies there were only 11 Rusyns, of which two were Lemkos, although both the Rusyn clergy and the Rusyn peasantry were a majority over the Ukrainians.
Rusyn students at the seminary in Lviv had a hard time and had to be strong willed to undergo all the humiliation brought on them fay their Ukrainian comrades, who were alter servers. They organized hunger strikes and demonstrations and used whatever means came to hand to terrorize their Rusyn comrades. In 1912, such a dangerous situation arose that the Rusyn students twice had to flee from the seminary in the dark of night to save their lives from their Ukrainian comrades. The late Father Botsian, rector of the seminary at that time, upon seeing this dangerous situation told the Rusyn students "run away, for I cannot vouch for your lives". This Gehenna that our students had to undergo at the theological seminary In Lviv at that time cannot be described by inert letters on paper or even orally. It was a nightmare that compromised both the Ukrainian clergy and the Austrian state.
The Russian [Ruthenian] clergy was in no better position, either. On a secret order from the government, the bishops would not entertain a proposal to allow Russian [Ruthenian] priests to come into the country. Even if someone did manage to get nominated by a bishop for an entry permit, the Austrian government would not approve it. Some bishops frankly advised "Don't be Russian [Ruthenian], then you will get a parish." The worth of a priest was determined by his political views.
Lemko peasants would sometimes approach heroism. Many of them deprived themselves of food to send their sons to school with the intent and conviction that the son would some day become a priest and the father would have a better lot in his old age. This was the dream of every father who sent his son to a gymazium. But to the great disillusionment and sorrow of the parents, the dream did not come to pass. The son would not be accepted into a seminary. Ruined materially, the father would be unabie to give his son even the most meager support to attend a university. For this reason, many Lemko youths, able and idealistic people, were wasted after graduating from gymnazium. Many of them left the country. If this array of youth had had the opportunity to finish university training, they would undoubtedly have played a great role in the history of Lemkovina. Yet, despite their difficult material situation, many of them went on to serve their people and work faithfully for its good, leaving a good memory in the hearts of the people.
Alfred Rozenburg, a minister of the German parliament, called it the fairy tale of the 20th century, and V. Shul'gin, a member of the State Council, said: "This is the wildest falsification of the century". And indeed, Grushevskiy's history of Ukraine is a story of betrayal, deceit, discord, malevolence, and a great misfortune for his own people. Furthermore, the author himself admitted in one of the footnotes to this history: "Since we cannot accept the tales in the Kievan Chronicle, and we have no other source, the early history of Ukraine remains unknown". With this, Grushevskiy owned up to fabricating history. Grushevskiy did not live to get a university chair, and he atoned severely for his diabolical work. He died in prison after suffering brutal treatment. The governor of Galicia, Count Golukhovskiy, wrote in one of his administrative reports to Vienna: "It is necessary and imperative to contrive a difference between the language and script of the Little Russians [Ukrainians] in Galicia and that of the Russians in Russia". It is clear from these words that there was no such difference, since it had to be created. And, despite strong protest from the Russian [Ruthenian/Ukrainian] population of Galicia, in 1892 the Austrian government ordered the introduction of phonetics in all schools and government offices. They tried to show by this that the Galician tongue, as taught in the schools, is not Russian because it uses a different spelling, and the words are written and spoken differently than they are in the Russian literary language. By this means, the Austrians wanted to erase from the consciousness of the Galician Russians [Ruthenians/Ukrainians] their sense of kinship with the rest of the Russian [rusky/eastern Slavs] peoples and to make it easier to incline them toward separatism. The introduction of phonetics into Little Russian [Ukrainian] spelling brought undesirable consequences, because it differed from that in Russian books and literature and made it difficult to read church materials.
The harm of this phonetics was perceived by P. A. Kulish, who was the first in Ukraine to use it, so that it later came to be called "Kulishovskiy's". In the Ukrainian newspaper "Pravda", published in Lviv, he made this announcement. "I declare that when the Poles begin to use my spelling to signify a break between us and Great Russia, when our phonetic spelling is displayed not as a people's aid to learning, but as a banner for our Russian [east Slavic] differences, then I shall go back to writing in the etymological spelling". Use of the phonetic spelling in the Little Russian [Ukrainian] lands within Russia was not harmful, because there the Russian literary language and etymological spelling were taught in the schools, and it was often even useful when practiced by ordinary people. In Galicia, however, it was harmful, because it served the enemy in destroying the Rusyn people. It was one of those bombs that General Miroslavskiy told the Poles to throw at the Russian entity.
In the early days of the Russian revolution, the then Minister of Education in the Russian government, Manuyiov. an Armenian by birth, also introduced phonetics partially into Russian literary writing and abolished the letter (ee). The Soviet government went even further with these changes by ordering them to be used in schools everywhere. In those circumstances and in those difficult times, when a new era for mankind was developing, this was perhaps even necessary. Today, however, this matter requires correction, which must inevitably occur some day.
In his commentary on this topic, Professor Bemadskiy wrote: "..... the old orthography (etymological writing) is a symbol of unity in the Russian [eastern Slav] culture of writing. Therein ties its greatest importance and, if only for this reason, it must be protected. The old orthography was adapted to the linguistic practice of the various tongues and dialects within the Russian language. The new orthography severely disturbs this equilibrium. It is adapted only to the Great Russian tongues, and by no means all of those. Therefore, the new spelling cannot properly be called Russian, and Great Russian only in part. Little Russians [Ukrainians] will have a new and serious reason to claim that the Russian graphic does not suit them......hidden behind such innocent changes in letters lie great daggers." All this brings to mind the thought of "some secret scheme against the unity of Russian [eastern Slav] culture". The reason why Prof. Bernadskiy was so set against giving Little Russians [Ukrainians] the new phonetics, and the spelling reform in the Soviet Union, is that the formerly single etymological spelling common to all Russians [eastern Slavs] has been broken up into many different spellings, leading to chaos and confusion.
On terms similar to those offered Grushevskiy, the then Professor Yemiliyan Ogonovskiy was commissioned to compile a Ukrainian grammar, while Smal'-Stotskiy was directed to compose a reader and a textbook on Ukrainian literature. The words Ukraine and Ukrainian were introduced gradually into school textbooks. In the first edition, the term "Russo-Ukrainian" was used; in the second the order of this expression was changed to "Ukraine-Russian", while in the third only the term "Ukrainian" remained. As Grushevskiy had falsified history, so were alt schooibooks for learning falsified. Under the patronage of Austria and Germany, and under the leadership of the Polish gentry, the Ukrainian party grew
We know of cases where the Austrians and Germans gathered Little Russian [Ukrainian] war prisoners into special camps where they were brainwashed and taught that they are not Russians but belong to a distinct Ukrainian people who should have their own separate nation. Such prisoners were better fed and better clothed in special uniforms, were trained as agitators, and were sent to Russia. The Austrians and Germans helped in every way to build an "independent" Ukraine, providing it with both a central council and Hetman Skoropadskiy.
On this subject of Ukrainian separatism, I quote the words of the Galician Ukrainian A. Kaminskiy, who soberly and frankly analyzed and illuminated the Russo-Ukrainian topic in a brochure: "Those interested in Ukrainian separatism are primarily the Polish element in right-bank Ukraine and the leading forerunners in Ukrainian freedom. This seems a little odd, but that's the way it is. The right-bank Poles sense and understand that Poland cannot extend as far as the Dnieper and the Black Sea. If they should attempt to build a Poland in the right-bank region, even from afar, they would merely stir up anti-Polish sentiment. They, therefore, strive with all their might to build a Ukraine, working with Ukrainian patriots. They know that a Ukrainian state would strengthen Poland's position and ensure its existence. A Ukrainian state would have to enter into all kinds of intrigues and would subordinate itself to them so as to withstand Russia. He who, in this situation, yearns to build Ukraine beyond the boundaries of Russia is building, not Ukraine but Poland".
Ukrainian separatism penetrated Lemkovina by way of Ukrainian priests, who were sent there not to proclaim the word of God, but rather to propagandize Ukrainian independence. The people quickly recognized this and, except for a few weak souls, have stood firmly on the ground of their Russianness, maintaining to this day their national honor and faithfulness to their heritage.



Originally appeared in the newspaper "Karpatska Rus'". Yonkers NY. Permission was granted by the editor for it to appear on The Lemko Page.





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Date Posted: March 23rd, 1998
Last Revision: May 29th, 1999

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