Main topic

ON MINORITIES AND IDENTITY

RUSYNS AND UKRAINIANS IN VOJVODINA

Abstract

A great deal of literature has been dedicated to the topic of the
Rusyns in Vojvodina in the last fi ft y years. Th ey originated from
Pre-Carpathian Russia, i.e. the part of Ukraine (Galicia) which is
bordered by Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. Th e city
of Uzhhorod is in the center of the region. Th e fi rst immigrants
came to Backa and settled in the mid 18th century. Th eir religion
is Greek Catholic, and their language is Ruthenian, but the name
“Ruske slovo” („Руске слово“) undoubtedly indicates that it has
Russian origin. Back in their homeland, the Rusyns had been Orthodox
Christians, but during the Roman Catholic proselytism
which started with the Union of Brest (1596), they changed their
religion to Greek Catholic Union. During the reign of Maria Th eresa,
they inhabited Veliki Krstur in Backa (Ruski Krstur since the
year 1822) and Kucura. Th ere were some Orthodox Christians
who moved to Srem due to religious confl icts, but in course of
time, they received the religion of the Greek Catholic Union as
well. At fi rst, 2.000 Rusyns who had moved to Habsburg Monarchy
were given the status of free citizens (Ruthenus Libertinus).
Only in the Kingdom of SCS/Yugoslavia Rusyns were accepted as
a nationality (Russians), unlike the other states where they had
been assimilated. Otherwise, they were called Carpatho-Rusyn,
Carpatho-Russian, Ugric-Rusyn, Ruthen, Rusnyak, Rusnak…,
which all refer to a traditional bond to the Eastern Slovene people
of Russia. Th ey moved to Backa: Ruski Krstur and Kucura, and
later Vrbas, Djurdjevo, Novi Sad, but also to Srem: Sid-Bikic Do,
Bacince, Berkasovo, etc. Rusyns inhabited Petrovce and Miklusevce
in Slavonia (present-time Croatia), Prijedor, Banja Luka and
Prnjavor in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republic of Srpska).
Th e process of ukrainization of the Rusyns begun with the formation
of the USSR, and Ukraine as a part of it, especially after
World War II. Th e demographic census of 1948 showed this
trend, when the “Rusyn-Ukrainian” column was introduced. Th e
next few censuses in Vojvodina (1971-2011) separated the Rusyns
and Ukrainians into diff erent columns. Th e process of ukrainization
had started even earlier, given that the Galicians who moved
to Bosnia and Herzegovina aft er the Austrian occupation in 1878,
were actually Ukrainians.
Aft er the World War II, Ukrainians from Bosnia (from the
vicinity of Prnjavor, Banja Luka, Laktas) moved to Srem and
other parts of Vojvodina to a lesser extent, but in the years to
come, they weren’t accepted by the local Rusyns. Th ere was an
attempt to impose the common ethnonym “Ukrainians” in the
mid 20th century at the state level, but it didn’t achieve expected
results. “As Greek Catholics, Rysins were under the church
jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Archiepiscopacy of Kaloc,
but some kind of a ritual jurisdiction was given to the Greek
Catholic Eparchy of Mukacevo, which provided priests, church
books et al.” Rusyns in Backa, and later in Srem, were put under
the jurisdiction of Krizevac Eparchy in 1777. Th e Exarchate is
nowadays located in Ruski Krstur, meaning that Vatican designated
the Union Church in Ruski Krstur as the Greek Catholic
central place in Serbia and Montenegro (the Exarchate’s jurisdiction
was reduced to Serbia in 2013).
Th e last demographic census (2011) has showed that 13.928
Rusyns and 4.365 Ukrainians live in Vojvodina, and 750 more
Ukrainians live in other parts of Serbia, mostly in Belgrade. Both
Rusyns and Ukrainians count as a national minority. According
to the 2001 census, 2.337 Rusyns and 1.977 Ukrainians live in
Croatia, and have a national minority status. Republic of Srpska’s
2013 census showed that there were only 19 Rusyns, and they
don’t have the status of a national minority, as opposed to 2.197
Ukrainians with the minority status.
Even though there are many research papers and books written
on the topic of the Rusyns, they still haven’t defi ned their
own identity. Th is article presents two hypotheses: the fi rst one
assumes that Rusyns have ethno-cultural uniqueness and the
other equalizes the Rusyns and the Ukrainians. Mihajlo Hornjak
is the main proponent of the fi rst hypothesis: “Th e Rusyns
have their own ethno-cultural identity which is diff erent from
Ukrainian and based upon the Slovene-Russian heritage, manifested
through the name-ethnonym, language, customs etc”.
Th is stance exists in a lesser extent among the Rusyns in Vojvodina.
Th e majority of Rusyns have the opinion which is
represented by an article written by Janko Ramac – “Th e history
of the Rusyns is the history of Ukrainian people”. Th e Rusyns
are considered part of the Ukrainian people in Ukraine, and the
ethnonym Rusyn is used for those who left the homeland. Th is is
a historical, ethno-state, religious and geopolitical phenomenon
which is represented by the idea that the diaspora is older that
the homeland.
Th e Union diaspora and the Orthodox Christian homeland are
leaning towards each other more and more. Th ey have been
establishing numerous cultural, educational, scientifi c, literary
and other associations, and are considered a minority with the
highest IQ. Th e Alliance of the Rusyns and Ukrainians was
founded in Novi Sad in 1990. Th is alliance cooperates with
Ukraine and is a member of Th e Forum Global Ukrainians
and Academic Society of Rusyns and Ukrainians which was
founded in order to preserve cultural heritage of the Rusyns
and Ukrainians. Th at’s why ASRU and the universities of Lavov
and Uzhhorod are currently developing the Encyclopedia of the
Rusyns with the Ukrainian fi nancial support.

keywords :

References

PERIODICS Political Review 2/2018 2/2018 УДК 323.1(=161.2)(497.113) 45-70
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