[ As published in 3/1991 issue of RUSYN magazine, Presov, Slovakia. ]
Declaration of PidKarpaty Rusyns
PidKarpaty Rusyns - are a small, but one of
the oldest Slavic group of people in Central Europe. They accepted Christianity
much sooner than the eastern Slavs of the Kiev Rus'. Apostles Cyril and
Methody, while on their way to the Great Kingdom of Moravia, met in the
year 862 on the historic soil of the PidKarpaty Rus', in the valley of
the river Tisa, and converted our ancestors to Christianity more than 30
years prior to arrival of Hungarians in central Europe.
Today PidKarpaty Rusyns not only reside in PidKarpatska Rus' (Pidkarpatya), but also in eastern Slovakia, in Voyvodina (Serbia) and in Croatia, in the Lemko Region of Poland, and also in the US, Canada, and other countries. The territory of PidKarpatska Rus' consists of 12,800 sq. km, and holds about 750,000 Rusyns. Besides Rusyns, our land is inhabited by Hungarians (160,000), Romanians (15,000), also over 250,000 Ukrainians and Russians, who arrived here after the second World War. Everlasting national spirit of PidKarpaty Rusyns, overcoming denationalization and assimilation, not shying from hard work, and national pride, have succeeded in preserving their mother tongue and own character, and thus were able to create rich culture/folklore, architecture, paintings and literature.
Our people had their distinguished patriots - Aleksander Dukhnovich, Aleksander Pavlovich, Aleksander Mitrak, Mikhail Luchkay, Anatoliy Kralitskiy, Evhen Fentsik, Andriy Repay, Yuriy Stavrovskiy - Popradov, Ivan Sil'vay....
From our Rusyn intelligentsia came well respected scholars and painters, sportsmen - mainly soccer players. From scholars let's mention some of them: the first dean of the Petersburg Univ. in Russia was a PidKarpaty Rusyn, Mikhail Baludyanskiy. A well liked professor of the great Russian classic writer Nikolai Gogol was also our compatriot Ivan Orlay (director of the Nizhisk Gymnasium). A great patriot of the Bulgarian people was one of our own - Yuriy Hutsa-Venelin. One of the rare examples of wooden architecture, greater part of which after "reuniting of PidKarpatska Rus' with Ukrainian SSR" was destroyed by non-believers; in our land and outside continued to develop not only decorative art, textiles, wood carving, ceramics, but also paintings, graphics, sokharstvo [?].
Painting continued to grow here since the 16th century. Good traditions contributed to the development of many future distinguished painters, who were trained in Budapest, Prague, Munich, Vienna, Paris, Rome and other distinguished cities of Europe. They in turn created in PidKarpaty Rus' school of our own thought, that has publicized Rusyn people beyond its native borders. To such painters belong: Adalbert Erdeli, Yosif Bokshay, Fedor Manaylo, Andriy Kotska, Ernest Konratovich, Adalbert Boretskiy, Andriy Dobosh and others. Since we were absorbed by the soviet Ukraine, the government policy started to oppress our national culture, which has resulted in decrease of our national identity. The Rusyn identity was not being recognized, the totalitarian regime changed our painters with decadence and formalism, and forcefully lead them towards the path of socialist realism. It is only due to the strength of spirit and national conscience, that our painters not only survived these harsh attempts, but continued to develop regional schools of thought. The cult of Stalin, and repressions in the '50s, had negative repercussions on PidKarpaty Rusyn literature. Many talented writers had to "constrain" themselves, and could not be published. This totalitarian regime right after W.W. II started with planned Ukrainization of PidKarpaty Rus'. All Rusyn schools were closed, along with all newspapers. Children started to be taught in Russian or Ukrainian, Rusyn children could not learn history of their own people, or read works from their own literature. The totalitarian regime was strengthening its hold through deportations of many civilians to Siberia, PidKarpaty Hungarians suffered the most, along with Rusyns and the Germans. In their anti-national policy, the Ukrainian and Russian communists applied various methods in assimilation of our native people: no recognition of Rusyns as an ethnic group, attacks on religious and cultural traditions of Rusyns, Hungarians, Slovaks, Romanians and Romas [Gypsies]. But the period of Gorbachov had arrived, and the higher government authorities of the USSR and the Ukrainian SSR had to recognize the human tragedy from the past. But even today [ 1991] the PidKarpaty Rusyns don't feel as being equally treated, since neither Kyiv, nor Moscow, recognize them as a separate ethnic group, in their internal passports they are still identified as those that dominate in Ukraine today.
On October 23, 1918, PidKarpaty Rusyns were permitted to enter the Union of Oppressed Nations of Central Europe. At this time they were recognized as an independent nation, whose people have the right to decide their own future. Professor T. H. Masaryk became the chairman of the Union, and an attorney, Dr. Hrihoriy Zhatkovich became Rusyn's representative to the Union - future governor of PidKarpaty Rusyns.
On May 20, 1919, the Central Rusyn National Council sent a 100-member delegation to Prague, headed by Dr. Anton Beskid, Avhustyn Voloshyn, and Dr. Hrihoriy Zhatkovivh for talks with president T. H. Masaryk, aimed at merging of Karpatska Rus' with Czechoslovakia. After an agreement was signed on September 10, 1919 in St. Germain, it was agreed on the steps to be taken for the union, accompanied with wide autonomous rights. Until the fall of 1938, PidKarpatska Rus' had it's own governors - Hrihoriy Zhatkovich, Anton Beskid, Konstantin Hrabar and Ivan Parkaniy. On October 11, 1938, Prague recognized for the first time in the history of Karpatska Rus', a 6-member government, headed by Andriy Brodiy. He was succeeded by our second prime minister, Avhstyn Voloshyn. On March 15, 1939, Congress (Sejm) of Karpatho Ukraine was created, which met in Khust, and Avhustyn Voloshyn was appointed the president of the Republic, which lasted only a few hours, because the Hungarian army moved in and occupied Khust and the remaining territory of PriKarpatska Rus'. On January 22, 1946, by decision of the Presidium of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the SU, the Republic of Zakarpatska Ukraina ( PidKarpatska Rus' ) was illegally renamed as Zakarpatska oblast [district] of the Ukrainian SSR.
Our people experienced all the "beauties" of the totalitarian system - collectivization and destruction of the private property, forceful assignment of the young Rusyn boys for work in the coal mines of Donbas in Ukraine, they survived massive exploitation of our beech forest (treasure of our country). To this day we feel effects of national, economic and political genocide. Our forests are being destroyed, the lungs not only for the Carpathian Mountains areas, but for the rest of Europe. Salt mines are being seriously abused, each year they give out about one million tons of salt, and the mineral springs are also being exploited , as in colonial days, they produce 800 mln liters of mineral water each year. Marble, mercury, KAOLIN are also hauled away...
In our country, not far from Mukhacheve, in a highly populated territory, functions a nuclear power generating station. And the peoples of the Carpathian Mountains (Runa and Stoy valley) are covered with powerful radar sites. we have the highest rate of child mortality of all Ukraine, and we also have the shortest life span. Our people consume food of very low caloric value, but work demands placed on them are the highest in the country.
Almost 17,000 retirees and invalids collect pensions under 70 rubles per month. Six thousand senior citizens collect social assistance - thirty rubbles per month. Many large families, with children, average 12-14 rubles per month. This at an established minimum living standard set at 320 rubles per person per month. These statistics were quoted from "News of Zakarpatska obl. Unions" (#1/1990) and the daily "Noviny Zakarpatya" of April 30, 1991.
The ecological situation has worsened during the last few years. Sly folks from the Ukrainian SSR, in order to satisfy their own interests, "planted" the factories that are unsafe not only to people, but also to the environment. For example the Lviv plant "Elektron" under a slogan "Let's help Zakarpatians" has built branches here for production of TV components. These branches exist in Medzihorye, Vinohradov, Svalyav, Volovets, Tyachevo, and Volosyanka, where the main production is performed. This work is closely associated with lead, chromium, nickel, volframium [?], tin, and a very toxic cadmium. During 1990-1, the lead content of soil around these plants exceeded acceptable levels by 200 times!!!. This borders on doomsday. In a year - two, these levels will get worse, keep in mind that total poisoning occurs when the acceptable levels are exceeded by 800 times. In order to keep these numbers secret from its citizens, the health agencies from Lviv have kept these numbers confidential. So let's continue to permit to have our people continue to die earlier, from other western Ukrainians; let the workers in the Lviv "Elekron" plant have a clean and safe jobs assembling components, made for them in our country.
Chemical forestry plants in Pevechya, Svalyava and Velikiy Bichkiv systematically pollute waters of Uzh, Laborytsya, Tisa, with chemical byproducts-formaldehydes, phenol, hydrocarbons. They not only harm our folks, but also our neighbors, in Slovakia and Hungary. But the worst guilt towards our people is a decision by the oblast leaders to dig for gold in the Muzhiyevsk Hills, not far from Berehove. They are already excavating down to 200 meters. Soon compounds of lead and tin will start to be separated from the molecules of gold. And this is most harmful, since during these chemical reactions, highly toxic byproducts are generated. They will concentrate in the waters of Borzhava, and nearby soil, inhabited mostly by Hungarians, but also Rusyns. It is already known that lead has harmful effect on the human nervous system, liver, glands, brain, and PUGLAVNY [?] organs. Exploitation for gold in Berehove region will produce more harm for our state, than it's worth. /..../
On September 29, 1990, at a meeting of Obshchestvo Karpatskikh Rusinov, a declaration was passed, requesting that a status of an autonomous republic be returned to the Zakarpatska oblast. During the First World Congress of Rusyns, held in Medzilaborce on March 23-24, 1991, Rusyns issued a "request" in which they declared that they are not part of the Ukrainian peoples, but self-being peoples. Letters with the full declaration were sent to the presidents of the USSR, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia and the US.
PidKarpaty Rusyns - hardworking and god fearing peoples, like freedom. They have a wish to continue to live peacefully with all their neighbors, with them they wish to have cultural and economic contacts.
PidKarpaty Rusyns throughout their thousand year history were always a nation. Only after W.W. II their right for nationhood, religion, history, maternal language and their own paternal land were taken away.
We PidKarpaty Rusyns, claims not a single square km of our neighbors land. But on our own land, we feel that we have the right to freely develop our nationality, economy, religion, and social culture. This is our reason for turning with prayer and request to the parliamentarians of Europe - to raise their authoritative voice on behalf of our Rusyn peoples, who are so suffering.
Help us to live in a civilized state, without a powerful state chauvinism, help us to become free people.
Uzhorod, July 18, 1991
Chairman OKR: V. Sochka
Alternates: A. Schepa, V. Zayats
members: Yu. Dumnich, I. Talabishka, L. Letsovich, S. Ach, I. Koturbach, S. Brodi
Click here for the original version in Rusyn cyrillic (KOI-8).
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