A country in the heart of Europe that describes itself as democratic and emphasizes it is rooted in European culture pursues a policy of cultural ethnocide in the early 21st century. Efforts are made to deprive an entire nation of their name and historical memory and raise obstacles in developing their cultural identity and education in their mother tongue. Victims of that policy are the Rusins, - an East Slavic people that is the indigenous population of the Carpathian Mountains. The country that pursues the policy of cultural ethnocide with the elements of genocide is Ukraine.
The Rusins’ thousand-year long history has been intertwined with the political history of Central European states. Following the Second World War the historical region Subcarpathian Rus has been included in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic against the will of the Rusins proper in what proved the culmination of the Stalin-pursued policy of the “reunification” (while in actual fact, artificial building) of the Ukrainian nation. The Stalin-ruled Soviet Union forcibly registered the residents of Subcarpathian Rus as “Ukrainians”, but the people’s historical memory and ethnic self-awareness has throughout the decades of Soviet government tenaciously preserved their self-designation, “Rusins”.
Ukraine has, from the very first days of its state independence, resumed de-facto Stalin’s policy on the Rusin people, a policy that acquired especially cruel and repressive forms when President Yushchenko came to power. While verbally denouncing Stalin’s totalitarian rule, in practice Ukraine’s authorities resort to a number of elements of that very rule in their national and cultural and educational policy on the Rusins.
Officially Rusins are referred to as a “Ukrainian ethnographic group”. But Kiev’s real-term “Rusin policy” runs counter, both in theory and practice, even to that interpretation. The Ukrainian authorities’ “Plan of action to settle the problem of Rusin Ukrainians” (1996) sets forth the actual objective of Kiev’s policy on the Rusins, namely to assimilate Rusins into the numerically predominant Ukrainian social environment. Rather than retaining the linguistic and cultural singularity of the “Ukrainian ethnographic group”, the state of Ukraine thus bends every effort to root out that singularity, which again puts in bold relief the falsity of the official thesis. The falsity of the thesis is also borne out by the deliberate underreporting on the Rusin population size (just as on some other Ukraine’s national minorities). There were 10,069 Rusins in 2001, according to Ukraine’s official population census that year, as against 500,000 Rusins when Subcarpathian Rus was integrated into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
The existence of the Rusin people is rejected in spite of ethnic awareness of the Transcarpathian region’s autochthonous population and scientific data, including international scientific conference conclusions. The Rusins’ quite moderate demands that their historical name be “rehabilitated” and the Rusin language returned to cultural-educational and information space invariably encounters the Kiev authorities’ outright rejection. The Rusin revival movement public figures and their family members come under pressure; their civil rights are infringed upon and they suffer reprisals at the hands of the Ukrainian State’s punitive agencies.
The distinctive character of Rusins as a separate nation has been legislatively recognized by 22 states, that’s the Central European countries (a historical home to Rusin communities), and also Russia and the United States. The Rusins have been also recognized as a separate nation in a number of international documents. In 2006 the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination voiced concern about the plight of the Rusin national minority in Ukraine and strongly encouraged Ukraine’s considering the issue of recognizing the Rusins as a national minority in view of essential differences between Rusins and Ukrainians. The UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger of Disappearing has given the Rusin language a special code number, since Rusin is believed to be spoken by one million people (the population of Ukraine’s Transcarpathian region and Rusin communities in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe).
Ukraine clearly ignores the core democratic values and violates international and European law with regard to human rights and national minorities. This runs counter to Ukraine’s Europe-oriented aspirations, becomes an obvious barrier in the way of Ukraine joining the European Union and makes it impossible to consider Ukraine as a genuinely European democratic state.
Under international law all international legal entities are subject to protecting human and national minority rights. We appeal to the international community, Heads of State and Government and the world public to resolutely put an end to the Ukrainian authorities’ policy of cultural ethnocide of an entire nation - the Rusins of Subcarpathian Rus!
Subcarpathian Rusin Society (Czech epublic) V.I.Pauk
Rusin Society (Czech Republic) G.Matola