“Podkarpatskaya isn’t Galicia”
Over the past year, the councils of a number of Ukraine oblasts (Poltava and Ivano-Frankovsk) adopted resolutions demanding that President Poroshenko put regional devolution in place. Kiev regarded these as manifestations of separatism. Now, not only is this taking place in Lvov, but also in Podkarpatskaya Krai. Indeed, it appears that Podkarpatskaya is gradually regaining the status of the main “separatist region” in the Western Ukraine. On 12 October 2016, the chairman of the Podkarpatskaya Oblast Council, Mikhail Rivis, demanded that the region have more funds to develop infrastructure. Otherwise, Rivis threatened, Podkarpatskaya might secede from the Ukraine. On 2 December, in the oblast capital of Užgorod, a meeting of Magyar (Hungarian) youth and local deputies proclaimed support for Rivis’ statement that the region could separate from the Ukraine and establish autonomy. Magyar activists then called on President Poroshenko to sign a special agreement which was read aloud by the leader of the initiative, Magyar activist Ivan Farkosz. Farkosz stated:
We invite Kiev to agree to an agreement on the devolution of powers, which would allow Hungarians to live in the Ukraine with dignity. We support the opinion of the head of the Podkarpatskaya Oblast Council, Mikhail Rivis, who announced the existence of objective preconditions for potential secession from the Ukraine. If Kiev wants this region to be part of its state, we demand the establishment of a quota of 20 percent for representatives of Magyar communities in the Podkarpatskaya Regional Council and television broadcasts in Magyar.
Magyars are about 12 percent of Podkarpatskaya’s population and have wide representation in councils on all levels. The raising of their demands for representation to 20 percent suggests that they’re feeling empowered and are actually dictating terms to Kiev. In turn, the SBU has opened a criminal case on the holding of anti-constitutional events and is carrying out an investigation. Following the example of the Magyars in Užgorod, the Poles in Lvov, the capital of Galicia, also asserted their rights. On 25 December in Lvov, a Polish forum of Lvov Oblast demanded that the Kiev government grant economic autonomy to the region. Sergei Lukyanenko, chairman of the Polish Association in Lvov, stated:
We’re 50 years behind Poland in economic development. Poland will allow Lvov residents to realise themselves. We still have a chance.
Note well that the Poles sympathise with Magyars in Podkarpatskaya. In March 2016, in Užgorod, a procession of Ukrainian fascists shouted, “Knife the Magyars!” This caused an outburst of indignation not only in Hungary, but also in Poland. To compare reactions, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and Ukrainian authorities expressed indignation at Warsaw after one person (only one!) yelled “Death to Ukrainians!” at a march in Polish Przemyśl. However, these same authorities chose not to notice the calls for killing Magyars in Podkarpatskaya, a group that’s lived in the region for more than a thousand years.
On 22 December, representatives of Rusins in Podkarpatskaya also announced their intent to seek an autonomous Podkarpatskaya Krai. They demanded that the Ukrainian authorities recognise the results of the 1991 referendum, wherein locals voted for autonomy within the Ukraine. Ivan Palinkash, a member of the Presidium of the People’s Council of Rusins in Podkarpatskaya, said:
We have two main demands. They must recognise the Rusins as a nationality and they must recognise the results of the  referendum, in which 78 percent of locals voted for autonomy within the Ukraine. We believe that there’s nothing wrong in this. We want to develop.
Next in the chain of events, on 23 December 23rd, Rivis called on the Ukrainian authorities to not allow the region to reach the point of a “Donetsk and Lugansk scenario.” Rivis issued his statement during a session of the Oblast Council, during which deputies voted for autonomous economic ties with other oblasts, in particular Poltava and Ivano-Frankovsk. Those oblasts also adopted resolutions on extending their rights, in addition to the demand that Kiev grant devolution to the oblasts. Rivis said:
The president appointed the administration, but the people elected the councils. We must convey our ideas so that they hear them, so that things won’t be like Donetsk and Lugansk, when people rose up and said, “You’re not listening to us”.
In other words, the dodgy Poroshenko régime opposes the legally elected deputies of the oblast councils. This is a dangerous legal and political precedent for Poroshenko. Moreover, Rivis’ words blatantly threaten President Poroshenko with a repeat of the Donbass scenario. Rivis and other deputies haven’t faced punishment for their words. Apparently, the regional SBU is afraid to use repression. The fate of the Ukrainian Berkut is still fresh in the minds of Podkarpatskaya SBU officers. What’s more, Kiev is afraid of upsetting Magyar “separatists”, because not only Hungary, but Poland and the EU as a whole could support them.
According to reports from Podkarpatskaya, Hungary actively issues passports in the region. Even Rusin activists acknowledged that local residents received 500,000 passports from the Hungarian government. It’s likely these are inflated figures; the number of issued passports is hardly likely to have exceeded 150,000-200,000. Just a year ago, one came across the figure of 100,000 passports. Even this number is significant, however, given that the region has (including migrants working abroad) only 1,260,000 people. This centrifugal process in the Ukraine will only increase in view of the obvious crisis of Ukrainian statehood and the destruction of the very idea of Ukrainian statehood. This process is being led not by “separatists” from the former Southeast, but by “patriots” from the Western Ukraine. Back in 2008, the author of these lines predicted a similar scenario. I’m convinced now, as I was in 2008, that the Ukraine will lose territory in the West and Southwest as the Ukraine’s current allies (Poland, Hungary, and Romania) will take advantage of the Ukrainian state’s weakness and foolishness to return territories annexed from them by the USSR, which these countries still consider their own.
10 January 2017
There’s no need to rehash the entire history of the Rusin people and their political hegira through the ages. Needless to say, they weren’t part of the notional “Ukraine” until 1945. Up until 1918, it was part of the Kingdom of Hungary under the Dual Monarchy… it had no ties with Galicia, either political or social. On the one hand, they were part of different “kingdoms” with different laws and customs; on the other, the Carpathian Mountains cut the land of the Rusins off from the Galicians, let alone other “Ukrainians”. To top it all off, the Unia imposed on the Rusins was not that of Brest (rammed through by the Poles in 1596), but rather it was a Unia ratified at Mukačevo (Munkacs) in the 17th century.
History conspired to make Rusins a distinct people from “Ukrainians”… nationalist cries to the contrary notwithstanding. The Rusins weren’t part of the Habsburg plan to destabilise Russia by using the Galician Uniates. The Rusins were a quiet people living in their valleys and towns… they wanted to be left alone and leave others alone. All in all, the Rusins, as a people, were superior to the Galician “Ukrainians”… they had (and have) no arrogance, no lust for power, and no overweening national hatred.
The Rusins want peace… they don’t want to be “Ukrainian”… they just want to live and let live. We should let them do that. Reflect on the fact that the USA wants to throw them to the Galician Uniates… great, isn’t it? The Anglos stole their land, grew rich off of slavery, murdered the First Nations, and invented outrageous lies as national myths. Can you see why they support the Galician Uniate nationalist junta in Kiev? I certainly do…