Momčilo Subotić



Institute for Political Studies



Faculty of Political Sciences, Belgrade University



Faculty of Political Sciences, Belgrade University



Faculty of Political Sciences, Zagreb University



Momčilo Subotić, PhD, is the Principal Research Fellow of the Institute for Political Studies. Editor-in-Chief of the journal: Politička revija (Political Review). Edited numerous thematic collections of papers and authored a number of studies on the topics of Serbian national identity, recent political history of Serbs and geopolitical relations in the Balkans. His most salient publications, among others, include:  “Identitet i geopolitička stvarnost Srba” (Identity and Geopolitical Reality of the Serbs) (Institute for Political Studies, 2012) and “Srbija i Republika Srpska: politički procesi i perspektive” (Serbia and Republic of Srpska: Political Processes and Perspectives) (Institute for Political Studies, 2017).



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.


The Renewal of Serbistics

The Serbian national institutions and Serbian political leadership are in a certain state of shock and conceptual disorientation. Defeated in a secessionist breakup of the Yugoslav state, in which the rights of the Serbian people and its state creations were ignored, the Serbian leaders of today seem to have been unable to get out of the vicious labyrinth of the Yugoslav concept and linguistic forgery of Serbo-Croaticism. In the beginning of the nineties of the 20th century, serious attempts were made towards understanding and implementation of the Serbian national programme,, however, those attempts, in a  „mini world war“ against the Serbs, and with the irresponsible national politics, were unsuccessful. This paper is a historical and a modern insight into the Serbian ethno-linguistic phenomenon; it pleads for the renewal of Serbistics that represents the essentials of the Serbian national programme.