Ukraine's Ombudsman for Human Rights for recognizing the Rusyns

Anna Romanenchuk, 27 June 2007

Ukraine's Ombudsman for Human Rights, Nina Karpachova, is supporting the position of deputies of the Provincial Rada on the Rusyn question, which has become significant to many Transcarpathians.

Zakarpattja Online has already reported, having taken into account the wishes of the residents of Transcarpathia, the Transcarpathian Provincial Rada on 7 March this year passed a resolution on the recognition on the territory of the province a "Rusyn" nationality, which provoked considerably polarized emotions.

Some maintain that the step taken by the Provincial Rada deputies is democratic; others that the matter is far from settled. And in a matter of days it became known that the
Ombudsman for Human Rights of the Verkhovna Rada (national parliament) of Ukraine, Nina Karpachova, during a meeting with the head of the World Council of Rusyns Paul Magocsi - also attended by Yevhen Zhupan of the Transcarpahia Provincial Rada, himself the most active initiator of the recognition in Transcarpathia of the "Rusyn" nationality - announced that in the course of recent years she had received many appeals from residents of Transcarpathia concerning the fact that the state was ignoring their right to freely choose and revive their nationality.

Nina Karpachova said that such discrimination must be halted, and that she has turned to the Head of State Viktor Yanukovych and presented him with the task of reviving the nationality "Rusyn" in Ukraine, entering the Rusyns into the registry of nationalities of Ukraine, and also requesting that central and local organs of the executive authority be obliged to create the conditions to fulfill the ethno-cultural and social needs of Rusyns in Ukraine.

As Yevhen Zhupan noted to the press service of the Provincial Rada, Paul Magocsi presented Karpachova with his book "The People from Nowhere" (an illustrated history of the Carpatho-Rusyns)
on 18 June at the Kievo-Pechersk Monastery, and told her that he highly values the efforts of the Ukrainian Ombudsman towards the recognition of the Rusyn nationality in Ukraine. Further, as this question affects the rights of thousands of people who live today in Transcarpathia. Nina Karpachova said that in the course of recent years she has received a number of appeals from residents of Transcarpathia who identify as Rusyns and she shares their concerns regarding the fact that the Ukrainian state is ignoring their right to freely choose and revive their nationality. She belives this discrimination was not halted in 1945, and that freedom of ethnic self-identification and development is enshrined in the constitution of Ukraine, various Ukrainian laws, international conventions and declarations.

Ombudsman for Human Rights pointed out that the Rusyns, as the indigenous residents of the Carpathian region, are intrinsically a unique culture, with a language recognized by international Slavicists, a full ethnic character, traditions, spirituality, mentality, sense of their nationality. Yevhen Yevhenovych further pointed out that today in the Transcarpathina province there are 27 Sunday schools active, where Rusyn language, literature and culture are taught. In the region, Rusyn writers and artists work fruitfully. Rusyn newspapers also appear. During the years since the independence of Ukraine there have been nearly 40 books published in the Rusyn language, particularly "The History of Subcarpathian Rus'", "Rusyn Pedagogical Encyclopedia," and the "Rusyn-Ukrainian-Russian Dictionary," and the Gospels have also been translated into Rusyn.

Rusyns are making considerable contributions to the development of science, culture and other spheres of life in our Ukraine.

According to Nina Karpachova, the Rusyn ethnos must be revived on the territory of Ukraine and granted its rights. An civil initiative by Carpatho-Rusyn organizations as of 1 June has collected more than 130,000 signatures of Transcarpathians who consider themselves to be Rusyns.

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