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Vasil Turok, the first chairman of World Council of Rusyns (WCR), has died …





Washington, D. C. On November 15-17, 2006, during the three-day visit to diplomatic missions in the United States, the chairman of the World Congress of Rusyns, Professor Paul Robert Magocsi, together with a delegation of  Rusyn-American community activists, was received by the  embassies of Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, and the Vatican. Other members of the delegation were from the of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society of America: the  National Capital Chapter president Dr. Victor Haburchak, its vice-president Professor Elaine Rusinko, Dr. Mikuláš Popovič, and the president of the society’s New England Chapter Orestes Mihaly.

The main purpose of the delegation’s visit to the  Embassy of Romania was to review plans for the Ninth World Congress of Rusyns, to be held in Sighet (Sighetul Marmaţei) on June 21-24, 2007.  In response to Professor Magocsi’s inquiry submitted one year ago  about the status of the new bridge across the Tysa River, embassy officials informed the delegation that the formal opening is expected to take place before the end of 2006. This means that it should be possible for delegates from Ukraine to walk across the bridge in order to attend the World Congress. The new bridge will not only link Ukraine and Romania, it will also re-unite Carpatho-Rusyns who live on the northern and southern banks of the Tysa River and who have until now been separated by an international border. Also under discussion was the topic of official guests at the  World Congress. The Romanian Embassy expressed its government’s interest in assuring the success of the congress and agreed to assist in issuing formal invitations to official guests who will represent various countries and the European Union at the World Congress.

For the second time within one year the Rusyn-American delegation and  the World Congress chairman were received at the  Embassy of Ukraine, this time by the Deputy Chief of the Mission, Minister-Counselor Dr. Viktor O. Nikitiuk. Professor Magocsi submitted a formal inquiry (copy attached) to Ambassador Oleh V. Shamshur, which requests clarification about what seems to be Ukraine’s contradictory policies toward Rusyns. On July 7, 2006, Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice, in response to an   inquiry for recognition of Rusyns as a distinct nationality, replied that “according to international legal norms as well as the laws of Ukraine, every person has the right  to his or her own national self-identity,” and that furthermore there is no “official list of nationalities that are recognized in Ukraine.” These statements seem to be in contradiction to Ukraine’s policies as reflected in its “Proposed Measures for Resolving the Problem of Ukrainians-Rusyns” (1996); its report to the Council of Europe defining Rusyns as a “sub-ethnos of the Ukrainian nationality” (1999), and a published list of nationalities in Ukraine from the country’s most recent census (2001) in which  Rusyns as a nationality are omitted. Do the “Proposed Measures for Resolving the Problem of Ukrainians-Rusyns” still reflect the official  policy of Ukraine? An answer to that question will determine the tenor of future talks between the World Congress of Rusyns and representatives of the European Union and the United States government.

At the Embassy of Serbia the Rusyn-American delegation had an extensive discussion with that country’s ambassador, Ivan Vujačić. Professor Magocsi praised Serbia’s wide-ranging support of the Rusyns in Vojvodina, where they are recognized as one of that province’s five official nationalities. Of particular concern to the Rusyn-American delegation, however, is whether the present-day government of Serbia still requires a group, for classification as a nationality,  to have a so-called mother country (matična zemlja), that is, an independent state outside Serbia. A formal inquiry on this matter was submitted to the Serbian ambassador by Professor Magocsi (copy attached).  Should Rusyns “need” a mother country, it logically would be Slovakia or Hungary (since most Vojvodinian Rusyns trace their roots to villages in those present-day countries), but certainly not Ukraine. More to point, Vojvodina’s Rusyns  do have a historic homeland. It is Carpathian Rus’ (popularly referred to as a Hornica), which alongside Flanders, Catalonia, and the Basque Land, is one of the many recognized homelands of stateless peoples in Europe. Historic Carpathian Rus’, which is within the borders of several present-day independent states, is the historic homeland of all Carpatho-Rusyns.

At the Embassy of the Vatican, the Rusyn-American delegation and the World Congress chairman were received by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi. The Apostolic Nuncio was informed  about Carpatho-Rusyns, a distinct nationality in central Europe which is known in Vatican circles as Ruthenians (Ruteni). Most of the discussion focused on the policies toward Rusyns carried out by the Greek Catholic Eparchy of Prešov in Slovakia and the Eparchy of Mukachevo in Ukraine. Formally, each of those   eparchies  emphasizes the use of state languages, Slovak or Ukrainian, at the expense of liturgical Church Slavonic and spoken Rusyn vernacular. As a result of the policies of the Greek Catholic  bishops of Prešov and Mukachevo, it seems that the Vatican is following policies similar to that of the former Soviet Union. In other words, the Vatican  may note that Rusyns (Ruthenians) are an ethnic group, but it does not recognize  Rusyns as a distinct nationality who have their own distinct Rusyn literary language.

Particularly troublesome is the policy of slovakization carried out by the authorities of the Eparchy of  Prešov and the gradual adoption  of  the Ukrainian language in the Eparchy of  Mukachevo. The  Rusyn-American delegation shared with the Papal Nuncio its surprise that the Vatican recently appointed  as head of the Eastern-rite Eparchy of Mukachevo an apostolic administrator, Bishop Milan Šašik, who is a Roman-rite Catholic. Consequently, the  Eparchy of Mukachevo in Ukraine’s Transcarpathian Region, which is home to many faithful for whom Rusyn is their native and primary language, now has an administrator (bishop) who is an ethnic Slovak and who does not speak Rusyn. Such qualifications would not be problematic if the eparchy were sympathetic to the cultural as well as spiritual needs of its Rusyn flock. The Rusyn-American delegation was heartened to hear the Papal Nuncio express the view that a key requirement in the selection of any bishop is the candidate’s understanding of the cultural specificity and ability to communicate in the majority language of the community he is called to serve. Finally, the Papal Nuncio agreed to pass on a request to the Vatican’s press and radio service that its reports should in the future not refer to Rusyns (Ruthenians) as Russians.

According to the World Congress Chairman Magocsi, the next series of meetings in Washington, D. C. will be with the Embassy of Croatia, the United States Department of State, and with members of the US Congress who have a special interest in Ukraine.



The name of scholar, professor of the Toronto University Paul Robert Magocsi is well-known to all readers of our Rusyn periodical and non-periodical issues, to many of those who are interested in the Rusyn movement after the year 1989 as we have written repeatedly on his activities and him personally for the last 15 years of publishing of Narodne novynki (National Newspaper) and Rusyn. You could have recently read an article on him written by V. Paďak with the title “Significant Rusin Studies Scholar Celebrating a Personal Jubilee“ in the National Newspaper No. 1 – 4 / 2005 as well as in the National Newspaper No. 29 – 34 / 2005 on his last published publication “Naša otcjuznina” (Our  Motherland, Publishing House of V. Paďak, Uzhorod 2005). Therefore we are not going to write about him details, we just recall basic data on him.


P. R. Magocsi was born on January  26th, 1945 in  Englewood, New Jersey, USA, he studied and acquired his titles at universities of Rutger, Prinston, Harward and Toronto and at present he is a member of the Canadian Royal Science Academy,  a head of the Ukrainian studies department of the Toronto University. Apart from this he is a president of Carpatho-Rusyn Science Centre in Ocal, Florida, USA since its establishment, from establishment of the World Congress of Rusyns in 1991 he is a member of the World Council of Rusyns and a head of delegation of Rusyns of the Northern America at meetings of the World Congress of Rusyns. However, a significant fact is that Magocsi worked in the field of Rusyn studies not only as verbal propagator but as scholar one, as he has written many scientific works and monographs on this topic. We really appreciate especially Encyclopaedia of Rusyn History and Culture published in English language in two editions (Toronto 2002, 2005) in co-authoring with Prof. Ivan Pop. At present he is preparing its Ukrainian version and later it shall be also published in the Rusyn language. Prof. Magocsi is an author of about 600 scientific works and several tens of valuable monographs, out of which there are papers on the Rusyns from field of Rusyn studies, therefore he is worth the name – the most significant Rusyn studies scholar of the 20th and 21st centuries.


Therefore, it did not come as surprise that it was just P. R. Magocsi, who was elected for a new chairman of the World Council of Rusyns at the 8th World Congress of Rusyns on June 25th, 2005  in Polish Krynica. He was offered this function also before, but he has not accepted it, because as he says scientific work is primary for him. However, at the last meeting of Congress, due to the pressure of situation in the WCR he accepted this function and we believe that under his leadership the World Congress of Rusyns and its executive body the World Council of Rusyns shall make another step forward. He is also convinced about it, as he would have not accepted this function otherwise under conditions given.


He received many congratulations with his new function and several wishes were expressed, however, difficult specific tasks stand before him, for meeting of which he shall need much patience and strength. Our common goal is that the world movement of Rusyns do not stagnate, but flourish.

A. Z.,  picture of the author

Vasil Turok, the first chairman of World Council of Rusyns (WCR), has died …


… one of the first to, after 1989, realise that we can finally claim Rusyn as our nationality and our mother tongue. However, he not only realised that but also felt in his heart. He was a proud Rusyn from Habura at Medzilaborce, born in the depths of war  – on January 8th, 1940.


After high school and university graduation in Bratislava, he came back to the East of Slovakia, where he worked as a teacher for a long period of time – first at the Secondary Comprehensive School on Revolucna street (nowadays called Dilongova), later at the Orthodox Theological Faculty in Presov. However, his most significant contribution can be seen in the process of the Rusyn revival, the renaissance of Rusyn identity and everything that went along with it. His contribution to dramatics is highly noticeable; especially his work as dramatic adviser, translator and director in the Alexander Dukhnovich Theatre, the only professional Rusyn theatre worldwide. He took part in the birth of the first Rusyn cultural-national organisation in the then Czechoslovakia – the Rusyn Revival; he was the first chairman of the World Council of Rusyns – the executive committee of the first international Rusyn organisation – the World Congress of Rusyns, where he was giving the lead for the development of Rusynism for the first ten hardest years in the world context……


A lot more could be written about Vasiľ Turok, maybe a whole book, but no words will bring him back to life, back to his relatives, friends and colleagues. All those who are going to miss him were taken by surprise by his sudden death on November 7th, 2005. Peace with you. “Vichnaya Tobi Pamyat, Vasilyu!”