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A spectacular meeting of the Rusyn youth

Preparation of the 3rd Congress of the Rusyn Language Has Started

The third book of the World Congress of Rusyns has been published

„From this place, he attacked the pointlessness of being...“

The third book of the World Congress of Rusyns has been published



Two remarkable anniversaries in the life of Rusyns






The Chairman of the World Council of Rusyns Paul Robert Magocsi from Toronto accepted the invitation and participated in the first meeting of the preparatory committee which took place on June 18th, 2008 in the Office of Rusyn and Narodny Novinky, which is also the centre of other Rusyn organisations. The committee is in charge of organising the First World Rusyn Costume Party to be held on February 28th, 2009 and will fill up the whole building of the Dukla Hotel in Prešov. The ball is supposed to be Rusyn not only by its content and form but also a surprise for those who decide to come. In the picture, the participants of the meeting can be seen (from the left): P. R. Magocsi, Anna Servická, Stanislav Stanislav, Michal Repčík and Valéria Fürješová. The committee also includes the following members: Alexander Zozuľák (the Head of the Committee) and Ivan Kopor. Everybody can come from any part of the world as accommodation will also be provided in the above-mentioned hotel for all those who show their interest in attending our ball in advance.


A. Z., photo of the author, July 9th, 2008


• The participants of the first interregional meeting of Rusyn youth entitled “Rusyns – an inseparable nation!” which took place on the Kremenec mountain where the borders of three countries – Slovakia, the Ukraine and Poland – meet.


A spectacular meeting of the Rusyn youth


On June 28th, 2008, high up in the Carpathian mountains, on the hill of Kremenec (1 221 meters above sea level), with the World Council of Rusyn being its patron, an interregional Rusyn youth event entitled The Carpathian Rusyns – an inseparable nation!  took place.

The very top of the mountain where the borders of the historic regions of Prešov, Lemko and the Sub-Carpathian Rus (at present in three different countries – Slovakia, Poland and the Ukraine) meet became a meeting place for activists of Rusyn organisations, students, graduates and pupils of Rusyn Sunday schools. It was a group of over forty people who came from Prešov, Snina, Svidník, Medzilaborce, Bratislava, the Krakow region, Uzhhorod, Mukhachevo, Irshava, Volovec, V. Berezne and other towns and villages where Rusyns live. The youths climbed the top of the hill from three sides and the rise was not an easy one, as it was a climb of between 12 and 18 km. They met on the top of the hill and, after a short rest, a cultural programme was performed also for passers by. The Rusyn youth delegation from Slovakia then passed the European Union flag to the young Rusyns from Sub-Carpathia in the Ukraine. They all joined hands to express that Rusyns are one nation. Here, at the top of the Kremenec mountain, the participants of this event accepted the Kremenec Declaration in which they proclaimed their idea of European identity. They also emphasised the following: “We, young Rusyns, Rusnaks, Lemkos, welcome the idea of the young central-European countries entering the European Union which acknowledges the Rusyn nationality. We address the Ukrainian government and ask it to also acknowledge the Rusyn nationality in its country. It is only when the Ukraine acknowledges the rights of minority nations, it can become a full member of the European Union. We also approach the European Union and ask it to do its best to prevent the Schengen border become a new “Berlin Wall” in the history of Europe! We, young Carpathian Rusyns, joined our hands to express our right to meet, organise common events and visit each other without any obstacles because we are one inseparable nation!“

V. P., July 9th, 2008


Preparation of the 3rd Congress of the Rusyn Language Has Started


The 1st international Congress of the Rusyn Language was organised with the initiative of the World Congress of Rusyns and held on November 6th – 7th, 1992 in the Spa of Bardejov. The Rusyn Revival of CSFR (Czechoslovak Federal Republic) and the Carpathian-Rusyn Research Centre of the USA were the main organisers. The congress was also supported by the Swedish Academy of Stockholm, the Romanche League of Switzerland and the Academy of Dialects of Monaco. Its aim was to coordinate the initial work in forming the standard Rusyn language. The congress ran in two sections: academic/research and practical. In both, significant well-known Slavists, sociologists and historians talked about the experience of other nations with codification. Using the words of Professor Alexander Dulicenko from Estonia, twelve points of the Resolution from the 1st language congress made it evident that Rusyns can take a similar way to the one of almost forty-thousand strong nationality of Ret Romans, who, over fifty years, used six variations of standard language and all of them were also taught at schools. On their basis, in 1982, a common standard language rumantsch grischun was formed, and in 1996, became the fourth official language of Switzerland, alongside German, French and Italian. Standard Rusyn language should have formed analogically, on the basis of colloquial variations of the regions (states) where Rusyns live, each of them separately at the beginning; but, gradually on their bases, one common standard global Rusyn language should be formed. As the outcome of the congress and the work of linguists and journalists of the editorial office of Rusín and Ludove Noviny, the codification of standard Rusyn language of Slovakia was ceremonially announced on January 27th, 1995 in Bratislava; having its own orthographical rules, an orthographical dictionary, a dictionary of linguistic terminology and the first primer and reader.


On September 28th, 2006; the participants of the interregional Programme Committee of the 3rd Congress of the Rusyn Language were welcomed to the Institute of the Regional and National Minority Studies, University of Prešov by its Director Professor Štefan Šutaj, Dr.Sc (fourth from the left). In the picture, there are also: Dr. hab H. Fontanski, Mgr. M. Chomjak from Poland, Professor Michal Fejsa from Serbia and PhDr. A. Pliskova and Mgr. A. Blichova from Slovakia.

After the two-day meeting of the committee, which took place in the lounge of the A. Dukhnovich Students’ Hall of Residence, the participants had their picture taken in front of the building. Left to right: Assistant Professor V. Jabur, CSc., A. Pliskova, H. Fontanski’s wife Alica, M. Chomjak, H. Fontanski, PhDr. M. Malcovska, M. Fejsa, A. Blichova and Mgr. V. Padak, CSc.

Pictures: A. Z.


The 2nd Congress of the Rusyn Language was organised with the initiative of Prof. Dr. Paul Robert Magocsi, PhD. and thanks to the financial support of the Carpatho-Rusyn Research Centre of the USA (of which he has been the President) and held on April 16th – 17th, 1999 at the University of Prešov; also in connection with the foundation of the Department of Rusyn Language and Culture as a part of the Institute of National Minority Studies and Foreign Languages, the University of Prešov, as a research-educational institution. The congress, in the approved Resolution, confirmed the main principles established at the 1st congress, in relation to building the language; and each regional section (of Slovakia, Sub-Carpathia, Poland and Hungary) decided to take for its objective the broadening of spheres where particular variations of Rusyn function. The sphere of education was decided to be a priority. In the Resolution, the importance of newly established academic-educational institution for the further development of Rusyn language and culture was emphasised. Consequently, the International Council for Research and Exchange (IREX) appointed the University of Prešov the educational centre for academics dealing with the Rusyn studies.


Recently, the preparations of the 3rd International Congress of the Rusyn Language have started in Prešov, although the congress will be held in the next year in Krakow. Its preparatory phase – programme finalising – was dealt with by the Interregional Preparatory Committee, which held a meeting on September 28th – 29th, 2006 in the lounge of the Alexander Dukhnovich Students’ Hall of Residence. The meeting was organised by the World Congress of Rusyns and the financial support was arranged by Professor P. R. Magocsi. On the basis of functioning of particular variations of Rusyn and the significance of the educational sphere for the national life of Rusyns as such, the members of the Committee agreed that the following congress should, again, deal with two subjects: academic-theoretical and educational-practical. On the committee, there are academics and pedagogues from the countries where Rusyns live: Slovakia – Assistant Professor Vasil Jabur, CSc., PhDr. Anna Pliskova, Mgr. Alena Blichova, Mgr. Marek Gaj and Mgr. Stefan Suchy; Poland – Professor Henrik Fontanski, Mgr. Miroslava Chomjak; Serbia – Professor Michal Fejsa; Ukraine Mgr. Valerij Padak, CSc., Mgr. Michal Almasij; Hungary – Assistant Professor Michal Kapral, Assistant Professor Gergej Benedek (unfortunately, not all of them could come to the meeting; still, some of them sent their proposals). As there is, among the topics to be discussed at the following congress, the area of global Rusyn language standard; possibilities of Rusyn Cyrillic (which is not identical) convergence were proposed. The individual variations also use different linguistic terminology, in spite of the fact that the dictionary of linguistic terminology published in 1994 was an outcome of consensus of the interregional linguistic committee, and it was presented as one of the primary publications in relation to the codification of the variation of the Rusyn language spoken in Slovakia. It seems that some language problems, which have already been solved, will have to be dealt with again at the 3rd congress. The topic of functioning of Rusyn in the educational system of the particular countries will be new, though, and discussed especially by teachers of Rusyn of all key stages (kindergarten to universities). Its other aim will be to decide for steps to be taken to converge the major methodical-pedagogical documents on Rusyn language and literature, decide how to compile textbooks, choose teaching aids and study literature, teaching methodology and so on. The primary agenda of the proposed topics is based on the main objectives of the following congress, which is the process of convergence of Rusyn language variations and strengthening of the position of the Rusyn language. The fact that the members of the committee agreed with one voice to continue in the work of the interregional language section, which was in operation prior to the codification of the Rusyn language in Slovakia, can be considered an important outcome of the meeting of the Programme Committee.


PhDr. Anna PLISKOVA, a member of the Preparatory Committee and the main organiser of the aforementioned meeting

(Shortened and edited by A. Z.; the complete article entitled Začalî prîpravy 3. kongresu rusîn´skoho jazyka can, in the Rusyn version, be found on our website, in the columns LANGUAGE and CONGRESS – Events)

October 4th, 2006

The third book of the World Congress of Rusyns has been published


The book by Mikuláš Hvozda is entitled Confession of a Rusyn (2006) and it follows after the previously published books of a new editorial subject, a civic union – the World Congress of Rusyns. The previously released books were “Misery has uprooted Rusyns” by Mikuláš Kseňák (2002) and “Significant for Rusyns” (2005) compiled by Gabriel Beskyd and Alexander Zozuľák. The latest book of WCR is an anthology from the latest poetic work of poet M. Hvozda, where, most importantly, he presents his patriotic poetry, such as Fatherland, The voice of Rusyn, Let´s be proud of them, The Genuine Rusyn, and so on. The publication was edited and revised by PhDr. Mária Maľcovská and PhDr. Anna Plišková. The language used in the book is Rusyn, it was funded by the Slovak Ministry of Culture, it consists of 64 pages and it can be purchased for 100 Slovak crowns at the following address: Svetový kongres Rusínov, Duchnovičovo nám. 1, 081 48 Prešov.

A. Z.

„From this place, he attacked the pointlessness of being...“


We can use this sentence to briefly characterise probably the most controversial and, at the same time, the most famous personality of the Rusyn Revival Movement, which started after the Velvet Revolution in 1989 – Vasil TUROK-HETEŠ.

On June 14th, 2006 (according to the secular calendar, Vasil celebrates his nameday on this day), a memorial plaque with this title was unveiled for this significant person in the New-Age ethnic life of Rusyns. The memorial was placed in a symbolic place – the restaurant Agát (Acacia) in Prešov.


At the ceremony of unveiling V. Turok´s memorial plaque, this portrait by Michal Rebej could also be seen. Miloš Karásek, an author, scriptwriter and the director of the theatre as well as the organiser of the event welcomed those in attendance and talked briefly about the significant personality of theatrical dramatic advising; followed by the honoured man´s son Roman Turok. Mrs Elena Turoková devoted her life to her husband and two sons. Although V. Turok was not a role model for family life, for him, she was a safe haven until the last day of his life, she understood his life´s mission and with unusual patience she tolerated his weaknesses. That is why we should thank her.


At the spot, Vasil Turok´s family, relatives and friends gathered as well as his close colleagues from the Dukhnovich Theatre, and also his “co-fighters” in the field of Rusyn revival process not only from Slovakia but also from abroad because his name is connected with these acivities in Slovakia. His personality is also closely related to the World Council of Rusyns, of which he was the Chairman for the first ten years; with the world congresses of Rusyns, the International Organisation Maisons de Pays and many activities that crossed the borders of the Slovak Republic. He was a man who, thanks to his rhetorical skills, was able to fight for his ideas and entice many Rusyns to his side. Few of them, at the time (just after the revolution), could plainly, clearly and explicitly form their ideas and plan the future of Rusyns in Slovakia as well as abroad...


.... The Alexander Dukhnovich Theatre (ADT) was granted the honour and good luck to have Vasil Turok, as also thanks to him the theatre started its uncertain, experimental journey, by which it broke through not only on the Slovak stages but also abroad. How does Miloš Karásek, the director and dramatic adviser of the theatre and the organiser of this event, look back at these years?


– The then director of ADT, Jaroslav Sisák, started a new era when he offered V. Turok the position of dramatic adviser. He was the catalyst needed to move the trend of the theatre to a higher level; to the theatre, he enticed dramatic advicers, directors and stage-designers such as Jozef Pražmári, Blaho Uhlár, but also me...


For Vasil Turok, the restaurant Agát became a part of his everyday life. Everybody who wanted to see him, knew they could find him there and he was ready to devote his time, answer their questions, discuss things and dispute various topics. He was actually some kind of informal discussion club for those who wanted to talk, who had something to say or who were looking for the answers to their questions.


Likewise, the meeting in Agát on Vasil´s nameday was natural, without any formalities. There were no pompous words, the people who wanted to come gathered, talked, discussed, remembered... Just like in the times of Vasil Turok-Heteš.


(Shortened, the full Rusyn version of the article can be found in the column “Театер“ on our website.)

Kvetoslava KOPOROVÁ, the photos of the author


The third book of the World Congress of Rusyns has been published


The book by Mikuláš Hvozda is entitled Confession of a Rusyn (2006) and it follows after the previously published books of a new editorial subject, a civic union – the World Congress of Rusyns. The previously released books were “Misery has uprooted Rusyns” by Mikuláš Kseňák (2002) and “Significant for Rusyns” (2005) compiled by Gabriel Beskyd and Alexander Zozuľák. The latest book of WCR is an anthology from the latest poetic work of poet M. Hvozda, where, most importantly, he presents his patriotic poetry, such as Fatherland, The voice of Rusyn, Let´s be proud of them, The Genuine Rusyn, and so on. The publication was edited and revised by PhDr. Mária Maľcovská and PhDr. Anna Plišková. The language used in the book is Rusyn, it was funded by the Slovak Ministry of Culture, it consists of 64 pages and it can be purchased for 100 Slovak crowns at the following address: Svetový kongres Rusínov, Duchnovičovo nám. 1, 081 48 Prešov.

A. Z.




Washington, D. C. On March 24, 2006, the chairman of the World Congress of Rusyns, Dr. Paul Robert Magocsi, was again in Washington, D. C. meeting with foreign diplomats. Dr. Magocsi was part of a delegation of  Rusyn-American community activists that  included John Righetti, National President of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society, and members of the Washington branch of that organization: Dr. Rusinko, Dr. Mikuláš Popovič, Larry Brindza, and Christie Slifkey. The group met with officials from the Embassy of the Czech Republic, the Embassy of Poland, and the European Union Delegation.


At the Czech Embassy the Rusyn-American delegation emphasized the special historic relationship that Carpatho-Rusyns have with Czechs, stemming from the period 1919 to 1938 when Subcarpathian Rus’ (present-day Transcarpathia in Ukraine) was part of the first Czechoslovak republic. Because of that relationship, the hope was expressed that the Czech Republic will continue to act as an advocate for Carpatho-Rusyns within the European Union and in its bilateral relations with Ukraine. Also discussed was the status of citizens of Ukraine living in the Czech Republic, especially those working in Prague. The delegation urged that favorable consideration be given to people from Transcarpathia seeking work permits and long-time residency in the Czech Republic.


At the Polish Embassy Dr. Magocsi noted that Rusyn Americans are aware of Poland’s treatment  of its national minorities since the establishment of  a democratic government in that country after 1989. Lemko-Rusyns are recognized as a distinct ethnic minority and de jure treated in the same manner as other peoples classified as national minorities in Poland. In practice, however,  it seems that Polish governing circles have not yet overcome fully the tendency from Communist days to treat Lemko-Rusyns as a branch of Ukrainians.


On behalf of the World Congress of Rusyns, Dr. Magocsi expressed concern over the recent decision by Poland’s Minister of the Interior regarding the two duly-elected members representing Lemko-Rusyns on the ministry’s council for ethnic minorities. One of those members was simply removed and  replaced by another representing an organization which argues that Lemkos are a branch of Ukrainians. This could be viewed as to be an act of discrimination against Poland’s Lemko-Rusyn community. Dr. Magocsi also expressed the hope that after several years of indecision the Polish state will return the property of the Ruska Bursa cultural center in Gorlice to its rightful owner, the Ruska Bursa Society (Stowarzyszenie “Ruska Bursa”). Finally, the  Rusyn-American delegation raised the issue of the Vistula Operation (Akcja Wisła), which forcibly deported Lemkos from their Carpathian homeland  in 1947. Both sides agreed that this is a very complicated issue related to the conflict between Poles and Ukrainians that began in the region of Volhynia during the last years of World War II. Poland’s Lemko-Rusyns should not be burdened, however, with a historical legacy that may be related to Poles and Ukrainians but not to them. Embassy officials suggested that at the very least Lemko-Rusyns should make their views known to Poland’s State Commission on Historical  Memory.


At the offices of the European Commission Delegation to the United States, the Rusyn-American visitors were warmly received by political counselor Reinhold Brender. The World Congress chairman Dr. Magocsi outlined briefly the present status of Carpatho-Rusyns who live within and outside the European Union. Particular attention was given to Ukraine, the only country that does not recognize Rusyns as a distinct nationality. According to Mr. Brender this information is quite disturbing, because it touches on the question of human rights. The European Union has developed what it calls a European Neighborhood Policy to deal with non-member states along its eastern and southern borders. Ukraine is a key component of this new neighborhood policy. Therefore, relations between the EU and Ukraine will be governed by the latter’s record on human rights. If there are problems, such as the refusal to recognize Carpatho-Rusyns as a distinct nationality, this will have  a negative impact on the overall relationship between the European Union and Ukraine.


Dr. Magocsi compared Carpatho-Rusyns to Catalans, Frisians, and several other stateless peoples in Europe. Since such peoples do not have any “homeland-state” to protect their interests, they must rely on institutions like the European Union. In other words, the European Union may be considered the “homeland-state” of all Carpatho-Rusyns. In fact, the EU is the formal homeland for Rusyns in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and soon Romania, while in theory the EU may be considered the symbolic homeland for Rusyns in Ukraine. In that regard, Mr. Brender provided the Rusyn-American delegation with a list of European institutions to whom they should express their concerns about Ukraine’s on-going refusal to recognize Carpatho-Rusyns as a distinct nationality. 


The chairman of the World Congress of Rusyns together with the delegation from the Carpatho-Rusyn Society has now visited the embassies of  most countries where Rusyns live. In the coming months, greater attention will be given to discussing the plight of Rusyns with congressional representatives, especially senators and congressmen who have a particular interest in relations between Ukraine and the United States.




Washington, D. C. On November 14, 2005 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 Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia, and by the US Department of State. Members of the Rusyn-American delegation included John Righetti, National President of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society, and other officers of that organization: Professor Elaine Rusinko, Dr. Mikuláš Popovič, Dr. Victor Haburchak, Dean Poloka, and Karen Varian. The purpose of the meeting was to inform the various embassies and US government officials about the status of Rusyns in several European countries.


Mikulas Popovics Dean Poloka, John Righetti, Elaine Rusinko, Paul R. Magocsi in front of Embassy of Slovakia in Washington.


Prof. P. R. Magocsi with Ambassador of Slovakia in USA Rostislav Kacer.


At the Embassy of Ukraine, housed in an elegant historic residence in the fashionable Georgetown district of Washington, D. C., Professor Magocsi expressed how the Rusyn communities in North America and Europe welcomed the collapse of the Soviet Union, the birth of independent Ukraine, and the recent Orange Revolution that brought to power in January 2005 the pro-western government headed by President Viktor Yushchenko. The World Congress chairman reminded Ukraine’s embassy officials that the Rusyns of Transcarpathia, in contrast to other national groups in that region, were among the strongest supporters of President Yushchenko and that Rusyns in North America helped in the campaign to bring about the success of the Orange Revolution. He also explained how Rusyn Americans, like Rusyns in European countries, support fully the efforts of Ukraine to enter the European Union. Ukraine’s membership in the EU would remove the new “iron curtain” that separates Ukraine from the rest of Europe and that cuts right through historic Carpathian Rus’, dividing Rusyns in Transcarpathia from their brethren in neighboring EU member states of  Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary.


Among the problems facing Ukraine in its bid for closer relations and hoped-for future membership in the European Union is its position on the Rusyn population living in Transcarpathia. Ukraine is the only country in Europe that does not recognize Rusyns as a distinct nationality. Rusyns are not a “sub-ethnos of Ukrainians,”  stated Professor Magocsi. Such a position, which is still official policy in post-Orange Revolution Kiev, is a violation of basic human rights and jeopardizes Ukraine’s efforts to draw closer to the European Union, where Rusyns clearly function as a distinct nationality.


Professor Magocsi also informed Ukraine’s embassy that for the past decade the Rusyn-American community has been active in sending medical supplies and equipment to hospitals in Transcarpathia.  Rusyn-American sponsors behind the medical donations singled out Transcarpathia as the recipient precisely because it is the Rusyn homeland of their ancestors. For example, one Rusyn American from Binghamton, New York, Michael Kundrat, has arranged for the shipment of 12 containers of medical  equipment worth over four million dollars. Does it not seem strange, asked Professor Magocsi, that despite his enormous philanthropic efforts, Mr. Kundrat has not been recognized by so much as a newspaper article in Ukraine, let alone a letter of commendation or some other appropriate act by local officials. Why the silence? Would this be the same reaction, say, if a Ukrainian-American from Galicia secured such donations for a hospital in L’viv?


At the Embassy of Romania, the Rusyn-American delegation praised that country for its liberal policies regarding national minorities and wished its government well in the preparations to enter the European Union scheduled for 2007. The main topic of discussion, which turned out to be of particular interest to the embassy’s representatives, was the Ninth World Congress of Rusyns, scheduled to be held in Romania in June 2007, specifically  in the town of Sighet near the border of Ukraine in the historic region of Maramorosh (Maramureş).


Romania is determined to put its best face forward during the upcoming World Congress of Rusyns.  The embassy spokesperson urged the Rusyn World Congress to invite to its proceedings officials from the European Union concerned with ethnic and linguistic minority issues, human rights, and cross-border cooperation.


Professor Magocsi also suggested the desirability of improving the infrastructure of Sighet, such as upgrading and constructing new hotels, large meeting halls, and the restoration of sites of historic interest to Rusyns, such as the courthouse where the anti-Orthodox treason trial was held in 1914 and the room where the Maramorosh Rusyn National Council took place in 1918.


Discussion also focussed on the recently completed bridge that spans the Tysa River from Sighet to Solotvyno on the northern, Transcarpathian side of the water body. This structure has enormous practical and symbolic value, because for the first time in over half a century it provides an opportunity for Rusyns living on both banks of the river to communicate and interact with ease. The bridge is fully functional and ready to use, but unfortunately it remains closed.

The delay in opening the bridge is linked to Romania’s accession to the European Union and the need to enforce strict standards regarding controls over the EU’s expanding eastern border. At the very least, proposed Professor Magocsi, the bridge should be opened to the Rusyn delegation from Ukraine, so that it can cross on foot to attend the World Congress in 2007. What better way to underscore the goal of eliminating borders than by symbolically opening the bridge to Ukraine in the very year that Romania joins the European Union!


At the Embassy of Hungary the Rusyn-American delegation expressed its satisfaction regarding the creation in Hungary of autonomous self-governing communities for national minorities. Rusyns are recognized as a distinct nationality and have 32 such self-governing communities as well as a national coordinating office in Budapest. The delegation and embassy officials exchanged views on the problems faced by Hungary in determining the criteria whereby an individual can qualify as belonging to a specific national group.


Of particular importance was the suggestion that Hungary’s Embassy in Washington, in cooperation with Rusyn-American organizations, would be interested in hosting on its premises exhibits and cultural programs that highlight the achievements of Rusyns in present-day Hungary. That idea needs certainly to be supported in cooperation with the national office of the Rusyn Minority Self-Government based in Budapest.


Cultural programs in Washington, D. C. that would highlight Rusyn culture were also suggested by officials at the Embassy of Slovakia. Even more important, however, were the concerns expressed by the Rusyn-American delegation about recent developments among Rusyns in Slovakia itself. On the one hand, the delegation noted with appreciation the enormous achievements  of Rusyns in Slovakia, such as their recognition as a distinct nationality, government support of the professional Aleksander Dukhnovych Theater, the codification of the Rusyn language, the numerous publications in the Rusyn language, the Department of Rusyn Language and Culture at Prešov University, and the establishment of classes in Rusyn language and culture in several elementary schools and a few gymnasia (middle schools).


More intense discussion turned on certain on-going problems. The chairman of the World Congress, Professor Magocsi, pointed out how serious problems result from Slovakia’s budgetary process, whereby funds are approved for cultural activity among national minorities, such as the Rusyns, in January of a given fiscal year, but that the actual receipt of those funds does not come until June at the earliest, if not more likely July, August, or even September. Since such practice has occurred repeatedly over the past ten years, it has given rise to fears that such bureaucratic practices constitute indirect discrimination, but discrimination nonetheless, against the country’s national minorities. Slovakia’s ambassador to the United States, Rastislav Kačer, who spent nearly an hour-and-a half with the Rusyn-American delegation, provided a poignant response. He admitted that Slovakia’s funding practices were indeed very problematic, but by no means are they limited to national minorities. The very same practices apply across the board, including funding the Slovakia’s military, and with similar negative results.


On the other hand, noted Ambassador Kačer, government officials should recognize that groups such as Rusyns are in a particularly “fragile situation.” This is because  unlike most other national minorities Rusyns have no state to turn to, whether for moral or financial assistance. Therefore, Rusyns should be afforded special attention and care by Slovak policy makers.


Professor Magocsi also raised the concrete manner in which funding is allotted to specific national minorities. Not wanting to assume direct responsibility, Slovakia’s Ministry of Culture has established an advisory council made of Rusyn representatives and one ministry official who determine specifically which projects or organizations receive funding. But how representative is this advisory council? Why, for instance, are two of the four Rusyn council members from Bratislava, when in fact the vast majority of the group itself lives in far eastern Slovakia?


Several members of the Rusyn-American delegation were particularly disturbed that the oldest Rusyn-language newspaper that has come into being since the Revolution of 1989, and the one with authority and renown both within and beyond the borders of Slovakia, Narodnŷ novynkŷ, was in 2005 given no funding at all. Instead, all the funding intended for newspapers was given to the recently established Info-Rusyn, some of whose issues have up to 40 percent of their material in Slovak! One of the Rusyn-American delegates pointed out how the state budget given to the excellent publication of Hungary’s Rusyns, Rusyns’kŷi svit, is proportionally reduced if the articles are in a language other than Rusyn. Clearly, the policies of Slovakia’s Ministry of Culture and its “Rusyn” advisory council raise serious questions about the degree of Slovakia’s sensitivity to the “fragile” status of its Rusyn inhabitants.


Finally, Professor Magocsi and other Rusyn-American delegates expressed deep concern that Slovakia’s Ministry of Education funds a mere eight elementary classes in Rusyn language and culture, while four other classes have to be funded from elsewhere. In short, the Rusyn-American community is being asked to pay for the salaries of teachers in four existing Rusyn-language classes, for the salaries of teachers in six new proposed classes, and for the salaries of 12 new proposed kindergartens  to be established in places where Rusyn elementary-level classes already exist. How is it possible that a European Union member country like Slovakia, with a growing economy that all of us hear about in the news, has to depend on Rusyns in the United States and Canada to fund such a relatively small number of elementary-level classes and kindergartens? Slovakia’s ambassador sympathized with the legitimacy of our delegation’s concerns and promised to raise the various issues we discussed with the appropriate bodies in Bratislava.


The November 14 meetings in Washington were the first to be held by a chairman of the World Congress of Rusyns with officials representing the central governments of specific countries where Rusyns live. Local organizers had also requested a meeting with the Embassy of Poland; unfortunately, it was the only country that did not respond to our request. All parties agreed that further close cooperation on the part of the World Congress of Rusyns and Rusyn-American organizations must continue with the representatives of Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia. We certainly intend to do our part in working with those countries and intend to add Poland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, and Serbia and Montenegro as part of our future sphere of interest. 


Two remarkable anniversaries in the life of Rusyns


On October 1st, 2005 about 50 Rusyns, coming from many parts of our region and employed in various spheres, met in the renovated hall of the Rus´kyj dom (Rus´ Cultural Center) located on Hlavna Street 62 in Presov to celebrate two remarkable anniversaries in the life of Rusyns. They concerned the 110th anniversary of the creation of Greek-Catholic Russian Teachers´ Academy (Seminary and Preparatory School) in Presov and the 80th anniversary of the Rus´kyj dom  residence ownership in Presov to be used by Rusyns. On this occasion, an International Academic Conference was held, primarily organised by the World Congress of Rusyns with the assistance of the  Rus´kyj klub – 1923 and the Aleksander Dukhnovich Association in Presov. The Slovak Ministry of Culture and the Presov Self-Governing District provided financial support.


Prior to the conference, the participants met in the Chapel of Basilian Monastery for a holy service, which was officiated by Father Markian Greshko with the assistance of Fathers Josafat and Gorazd Timkovich. The gospels and apostles were recited in Rusyn. Consequently, the congregation moved to the Russian House for a culture programme, where Maria Girova, Jan Jarolin, sisters Gerberi and Anna Barnova took part. Later on, the actual work meeting of the academic conference followed and was lead by Mikulash Lyash, a member of the Russian Club-1923 committee. He welcomed a number of prestigious guests, among them the father of the Slovak Prime Minister Mikulash Dzurinda, a Rusyn and a graduate of the Russian Academy, who gave a speech in Rusyn.


Afterwards, a letter of congratulation sent by MUDr. Peter Chudik, the chairman of the Presov Self-Governing District (whose ancestors were of Rusyn nationality) was read. In his letter, Mr. Chudik wished a successful run and outcome of the conference. Consequently, Mgr. Gabriel Beskyd, the head of the Rus´kyj klub -1923 gave his first speech. He talked about the cultural work of the associations of the Rus´kyj dom, especially the Aleksander Dukhnovich Association and he showed great knowledge in the area. He pointed out the worthy deed of our Rusyn predecessors under the leadership of the bishop Pavol Peter Gojdich, who in 1925, using their own financial resources, bought the residential building of the Rus´kyj dom, which came to be used by Rusyns living in Slovakia for cultural and religious-national work. The topic of his next speech was The Task of the Greek-Catholic Russian Teachers' Academy in Cultural Work of Rusyns. The following participants also gave their speeches at the conference: PhDr. Maria Malcovska, PhDr. Stanislav Konetchny, CSc., PhDr. Anna Pliskova and a Hungarian participant Dr. Tibor Miklos Popovich.


The academic conference progressed by a discussion, which concerned the history as well as the contemporary cultural and economic issues that the Rusyns living in Slovakia are to cope with. One of them is using the Rus´kyj dom for cultural purposes. The issue was successfully solved in the past, now it is the turn of the contemporaries to contribute to the matter.

PhDr. Maria MALCOVSKA, Presov