For more information: John Righetti
rusynone@gmail.com

Hundreds of people on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean have called upon the new Ukrainian government to recognize Ukraine’s Carpatho-Rusyn community as an official nationality and official minority in Ukraine—and the number continues to climb.

“We are gratified that the Carpatho-Rusyn community worldwide has responded, as well as others who believe in in the fundamental human right of self-identification,“ said Dr. Patricia Krafcik, chairperson of the Carpatho-Rusyn Consortium of North America.

The Consortium, an association of all the major Carpatho-Rusyn cultural organizations in North America, initiated an online petition one week ago calling upon Ukraine’s new President Petro Poroshenko and the newly elected Ukrainian Supreme Council to recognize the Carpatho-Rusyns within Ukraine. Ukraine is currently the only state in East Central Europe that does not recognize its Carpatho-Rusyn minority.

“The new Ukrainian government will try to build a more democratic Ukraine, one which will provide fundamental human rights to all of its national minorities within the Ukrainian state in keeping with European Union and international norms,” said Jim Kepchar-Kaminski, Esq., president of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society. “So now is the logical time to raise this issue.”

The petition, which was generated through change.org, is being sent to key Ukrainian government officials, including President Petro Poroshenko, Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Valeria Lutkovska and the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Olexander Motsyk. It is also being sent to United States Secretary of State John Kerry, the Ambassador of the United States to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, key members of the Ukrainian Caucus of the United States Congress and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Rita Izsák.

More than 800 individuals have signed the petition to date, with numbers climbing every day. Signatories are from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, and fifteen other countries around the world.

The petition has aroused old, outdated issues. Some journalists have alleged that this Carpatho-Rusyn action is motivated by Russia.

“This is utter nonsense,” said John Righetti, Consortium spokesperson. “The Consortium has no relationship with Russia and has no reason to support any Russian agenda in Ukraine. The petition clearly states that Consortium supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine. When we initiated this action, we issued a press release announcing the action and its purpose to media internationally. Those very few who have written that this petition is motivated by Moscow had the opportunity to contact us, as any legitimate journalist would, to ask the question. None of them did.”

“They have attempted to turn this into a political issue. This is not a political issue. It is a cultural one. Recognizing one’s national minorities is a concrete way to uphold the basic principles of human rights.”