Deliver petitions to U.S. and Ukrainian governments

Washington, DC—Leaders of the major Carpatho-Rusyn cultural organizations in North America as well as from Ukraine delivered petitions today to representatives of both the Ukrainian and United States governments calling upon Ukraine to provide education on Carpatho-Rusyn language and culture within the Ukrainian educational system.

Members of the Carpatho-Rusyn Consortium of North America along with the president of the Blahodijnyj Fond Rusinska Shkola in Ukraine delivered two signed petitions to both the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, DC, and the U.S. State Department.

One petition was signed by more than 60 international scholars who teach at universities and other institutions of higher education from throughout the world, calling upon the Ukrainian government to provide education about Carpatho-Rusyn language and culture at Uzhhorod National University in the Transcarpathian oblast of Ukraine, where a majority of the population is Carpatho-Rusyn.

The second petition urged the Ukrainian government to support education in Carpatho-Rusyn language and culture in the Ukrainian public schools in Transcarpathia and was signed by almost 500 individuals of various ethnicities and nations.

“These two petitions demonstrate that both scholars and grassroots individuals want Ukraine to show that it is a modern  democratic republic by allowing its indigenous minority citizens to learn their own language and culture,” said Patricia Krafcik, chair of the Consortium. “This is not an ethnic issue but rather a basic human rights issue. We see that folks understand this because many of those who signed these petitions are not Carpatho-Rusyns but people who hope that Ukraine should afford its citizens their basic human rights.”

The petitions were issued to key Ukrainian government officials, including Minister of Education Lilia Hrynevych. It was hand delivered by Consortium leaders to the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington and to the U.S. State Department.

The Transcarpathian oblast is the westernmost region of Ukraine . It is the region in Ukraine where Carpatho-Rusyns are the majority of the population.

“Students in Transcarpathia can study Russian, Slovak, Hungarian and Hebrew at Uzhhorod National University but they cannot study the language most spoken indigenously—Carpatho-Rusyn,” explained Valerii Padiak, chairman of the Blahodijnyj Fond Rusinska Shkola in Uzhhorod, capital city of the Transcarpathian Region.

Ukraine recognized 14 languages in its 2012 language law as official languages for use by various groups or in certain areas of Ukraine. Among them is the Carpatho-Rusyn (Rusyn) language. The Ukrainian government provides education in 13 of these languages, but no financial or other kinds of support for the Carpatho-Rusyn language or about the Carpatho-Rusyn language – or about Carpatho-Rusyn culture at all.

“Young people cannot study in their public schools the language they speak in their homes—the language their ancestors have spoken for centuries,” explained Krafcik.

Likewise, scholars express their concern that the teaching of both Carpatho-Rusyn language and Carpatho-Rusyn cultural studies does not exist at the university level in Transcarpathia.

Carpatho-Rusyns are an East Slavic people who are an indigenous nationality of the Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Europe. For centuries, the people around them and the governments who ruled them recognized their name, language and culture. Even today, every nation where Carpatho-Rusyns are a native or long standing population recognizes them and supports their language and culture except for one –Ukraine.

Carpatho-Rusyns have long been recognized as an official nationality in Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Serbia. In most of these nations, Carpatho-Rusyn language and culture is taught at all levels.

“Now is the time for Ukraine to join its EU neighbors who have already recognized their Carpatho-Rusyn minorities for years and support their culture and language,”Krafcik said.

Carpatho-Rusyns are indigenous to the Carpathian Mountain chain of Eastern Europe and therefore are concentrated mostly in the Transcarpathian Region of Ukraine where it is estimated they make up 85% of the population.

In 1992, Transcarpathians voted overwhelming to remain in a new democratic Ukrainian state but they also voted to receive autonomy within that state. This autonomy has never been achieved.

In 2007, the locally elected Trancarpathian Regional Council (Oblastna Rada) voted overwhelmingly to recognize the Carpatho-Rusyn nationality within the Transcarpathian Region.

It is estimated that there are approximately 850,000 Carpatho-Rusyns in Ukraine, making it the largest community of Carpatho-Rusyns in the world. Worldwide, the Carpatho-Rusyn community is estimated at about 2 million.



PDF version

Appeal for Carpatho-Rusyn Studies to the Ministry of Education of Ukraine and the Rector of Uzhhorod National University

Appeal to the Government of Ukraine to Support Carpatho-Rusyn Language and Culture Schools