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Carpathian Ruthenia, Carpatho-Ukraine or Zakarpattia[a] (Rusyn: ? ?, Karpat'ska Rus'; Ukrainian: ?, romanized: Zakarpattia or ? ?; Slovak and Czech: Podkarpatská Rus; Polish: Zakarpacie, Hungarian: Kárpátalja; Romanian: Transcarpatia; Russian: ? ?, romanized: Karpatskaya Rus'; German: Karpatenukraine) is a historic region in the border between Central and Eastern Europe, mostly located in western Ukraine's Zakarpattia Oblast, with smaller parts in easternmost Slovakia (largely in Pre?ov Region and Ko?ice Region) and Lemkivshchyna in Poland.
During the Middle Ages the region was part of Kievan Rus'. Before World War I most of this region was part of the Kingdom of Hungary. In the interwar period, it was part of the First and Second Czechoslovak Republic. During World War II, the region was annexed by the Kingdom of Hungary once again. After the war, it was occupied by the USSR and became part of Soviet Ukraine.
It is an ethnically-diverse region, inhabited mostly by people who regard themselves as ethnic Ukrainians, Rusyns (including Lemkos, Boykos and Hutsuls), Hungarians, Romanians, Slovaks and Poles. It also has small Jewish and Romani minorities. The most commonly-spoken languages are Rusyn, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Romanian, Slovakian, and Polish.
The name Carpathian Ruthenia is sometimes used for a contiguous cross-border area of Ukraine, Slovakia and Poland occupied by Ruthenians. The local Ruthenian population has a problem with self-identification and a portion of them consider themselves to be part of bigger Ukrainian family, while the other - a separate and unique Slavic group of Rusyns. Some Carpathian Rusyns consider themselves part of a bigger Russian nation. In regards to the region most Rusyns, however, use the term Zakarpattia (Trans-Carpathia; literally "beyond the Carpathian mountains"). This is contrasted implicitly with Prykarpattia (Ciscarpathia; "Near-Carpathia"), an unofficial region in Ukraine, to the immediate north-east of the central area of the Carpathian Range, and potentially including its foothills, the Subcarpathian basin and part of the surrounding plains.
From a Hungarian, Slovak and Czech perspective the region is usually described as Subcarpathia (literally "below the Carpathians"), although technically this name refers only to a long, narrow basin that flanks the northern side of the mountains.
During the period in which the region was administered by the Hungarian states it was officially referred to in Hungarian as Kárpátalja (literally: "the base of the Carpathians") or the north-eastern regions of medieval Upper Hungary, which in the 16th century was contested between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire.
During the period of Czechoslovak administration in the first half of the 20th century, the region was referred to for a while as Rusinsko (Ruthenia) or Karpatske Rusinsko, and later as Subcarpathian Rus (Czech and Slovak: Podkarpatská Rus) or Subcarpathian Ukraine (Czech and Slovak: Podkarpatská Ukrajina), and from 1928 as Subcarpathian Ruthenian Land. (Czech: Zem? podkarpatoruská, Slovak: Krajina podkarpatoruská).
Alternative, unofficial names used in Czechoslovakia before World War II included Subcarpathia (Czech and Slovak: Podkarpatsko), Transcarpathia (Czech and Slovak: Zakarpatsko), Transcarpathian Ukraine (Czech and Slovak: Zakarpatská Ukrajina), Carpathian Rus/Ruthenia (Czech and Slovak: Karpatská Rus) and, occasionally, Hungarian Rus/Ruthenia (Czech: Uherská Rus; Slovak: Uhorská Rus).
The region declared its independence as Carpatho-Ukraine on March 15, 1939, but was occupied and annexed by Hungary on March 15-18, 1939 and remained under Hungarian control until the end of the World War II. During this period the region continued to possess a special administration and the term Kárpátalja became more common.
In 1944-1946, the region was occupied by the Soviet Army and was a separate political formation known as Transcarpathian Ukraine or Subcarpathian Ruthenia. During this period the region possessed some form of quasi-autonomy with its own legislature, while remaining under the governance of the Communist Party of Transcarpathian Ukraine. After the signing of a treaty between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union as well as the decision of the regional council, Transcarpathia joined the Ukrainian SSR as part of the Ukrainian region (oblast).
The region has subsequently been referred to as Zakarpattia (Ukrainian: ?) or Transcarpathia, and on occasions as Carpathian Rus' (Ukrainian: ? ?, romanized: Karpatska Rus), Transcarpathian Rus' (Ukrainian: ?, romanized: Zakarpatska Rus), Subcarpathian Rus' (Ukrainian: ? ?, romanized: Pidkarpatska Rus).
Carpathian Ruthenia rests on the southern slopes of the eastern Carpathian Mountains, bordered to the east and south by the Tisza River, and to the west by the Hornád and Poprad Rivers, which borders Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania, and makes up part of the Pannonian Plain.
The region predominantly rural and infrastructurally underdeveloped being dominated by mostly mountainous relief and geographically separated from Ukraine, Slovakia, and Romania by mountain range and Hungary by Tisza river. Major cities include Uzhhorod and Mukachevo and have population around 100,000, population of other five cities (i.e. Khust, Berehovo) varies between 10,000 and 30,000. Other urban and rural populated places have population less than 10,000.
During the Late Bronze Age in the 2nd millennium BCE, the region was characterized by Stanove culture, however, it only gained more advanced metalworking skills with the arrival of Thracians from the South with Kushtanovytsia culture in the 6th-3rd century BCE. Subsequently, in 5th-3rd century BCE from the West arrived the Celts with iron-melting skills and La Tène culture. For a period of time existed a Thracian-Celtic symbiosis in the region, and then also appeared Bastarnae. In that time there were also present near Iranian-speaking Scythians and later Sarmatian tribe Iazyges. The Proto-Slavic settlement is dated between the 2nd-century BCE and 2nd century CE, and during the Migration Period it is considered that was traversed by Huns and Gepids (4th century) and Pannonian Avars (6th century).
By the 8th and 9th century, the valleys of the Northern and Southern slopes of the Carpathian Mountains were "densely" settled by Slavic tribe of White Croats, who were closely related to East Slavic tribes who inhabited Prykarpattia, Volhynia, Transnistria and Dnieper Ukraine. Whereas some White Croats remained behind in Carpathian Ruthenia, others moved southward into the Balkans in the 7th century. Those who remained were conquered by Kievan Rus' in the late 10th century.
In 896 the Hungarians crossed the Carpathian Range and migrated into the Pannonian Basin. Nestor chronicle wrote that Hungarian tribes had to fight against the Volochi and settled among Slavs when on their way to Pannonia. Prince Laborec fell from power under the efforts of the Hungarians and the Kievan forces. According to Gesta Hungarorum, the Hungarians defeated a united Bulgarian and Byzantine army led by Salan in the early 10th century on the plains of Alpár, who ruled over territory that was finally conquered by Hungarians. During the tenth and for most of the eleventh century the territory remained a borderland between the Kingdom of Hungary to the south and the Kievan Rus' Principality of Halych to the north.
Slavs from the north (Galicia) and east - who actually arrived from Podolia via the mountain passes of Transylvania - continued to settle in small numbers in various parts of the Carpathian borderland, which the Hungarians and other medieval writers referred to as the Marchia Ruthenorum - the Rus' March. These new immigrants, from the north and east, like the Slavs already living in Carpathian Ruthenia, had by the eleventh century come to be known as the people of Rus', or Rusyns. Many of the local inhabitants were assimilated. Local Slavic nobility often intermarried with the Hungarian nobles to the south. Prince Rostislav, a Ruthenian noble unable to continue his family's rule of Kiev, governed a great deal of Transcarpathia from 1243 to 1261 for his father-in-law, Béla IV of Hungary. The territory's ethnic diversity increased with the influx of some 40,000 Cuman settlers, who came to the Pannonian Basin after their defeat by Vladimir II (Monomakh) in the 12th century and their ultimate defeat at the hands of the Mongols in 1238.
During early period of Hungarian administration, part of the area was included into the Gyep? border region, while other part was under county authority and was included into counties of Ung, Borsova and Szatmár. Later, the county administrative system was expanded to whole Transcarpathia and the area was divided between counties of Ung, Bereg, Ugocsa, and Máramaros. In the end of the 13th and beginning of the 14th century, during the collapse of the central power in the Kingdom of Hungary, the region was part of the domains of semi-independent oligarchs Amade Aba and Miklós Pok. From 1280 to 1320, north-western part of Carpathian Ruthenia was part of the Kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia.
Between the 12th and 15th centuries, the area was probably colonized by Eastern Orthodox groups of Vlach highlanders with accompanying Ruthenian populations. All the groups, including local Slavic population, blended together creating distinctive culture from main Ruthenian-speaking areas. Over the time, because of geographical and political isolation from the main Ruthenian-speaking territory, the inhabitants developed distinctive features.
From 1526, the region was divided between the Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary) and Eastern Hungarian Kingdom. Beginning in 1570, the latter transformed to the Principality of Transylvania which fell soon under Ottoman suzerainty. Part of Transcarpathia under Habsburg administration was included into the Captaincy of Upper Hungary, which was one of the administrative units of the Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary. During this period, an important factor in the Ruthenian cultural identity, namely religion, came to the fore. The Unions of Brest-Lytovsk (1595) and of Ungvár (Uzhorod) (1646) were instituted, causing the Byzantine Orthodox Churches of Carpathian and Transcarpathian Rus' to come under the jurisdiction of Rome, thus establishing so-called "Unia", or Eastern Catholic churches in the region, the Ruthenian Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
In the 17th century (until 1648) the entire region was part of Principality of Transylvania, and between 1682 and 1685, its north-western part was administered by the vassal Ottoman Principality of the prince Imre Thököly, while south-eastern parts were remained administered by Transylvania. From 1699, the entire region eventually became part of the Habsburg Monarchy, divided between the Kingdom of Hungary and the Principality of Transylvania. Later, the entire region was included into the Kingdom of Hungary. Between 1850 and 1860 the Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary was divided into five military districts, and the region was part of the Military District of Kaschau.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, Transcarpathia was an area of continuous struggle between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian activists. The former asserted that the Carpatho-Ruthenians were part of the Ukrainian nation, while the latter claimed them to be a separate ethnicity and nationality from the Ukrainians, a part of the Russian ethnos.
In 1910, population of Transcarpathia included 605,942 people, of which 330,010 (54.5%) speakers of Ruthenian, 185,433 (30.6%) speakers of Hungarian language, 64,257 (10.6%) speakers of German language, 11,668 (1.9%) speakers of Romanian language, 6,346 (1%) speakers of Slovak/Czech language, and 8,228 (1.4%) speakers of other languages.
After World War I, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy collapsed and the region was briefly (in 1918 and 1919) claimed as part of the independent West Ukraine Republic. However, the region was, for most of this period controlled by the newly formed independent Hungarian Democratic Republic, with a short period of West Ukrainian control.
On November 8, 1918, the first National Council (the Lubov?a Council, which was later reconvened as the Pre?ov Council) was held in western Ruthenia. The first of many councils, it simply stated the desire of its members to separate from the newly formed Hungarian state but did not specify a particular alternative -- only that it must involve the right to self-determination.
Over the next months, councils met every few weeks, calling for various solutions. Some wanted to remain part of Hungarian state but with greater autonomy; the most notable of these, the Uzhhorod Council (November 9, 1918), declared itself the representative of the Rusyn people and began negotiations with Hungarian authorities, resulting in the adoption of Law no. 10, making four of the Rusyn counties autonomous. Other councils, such as the Carpatho-Ruthenian National Council meetings in Huszt (Khust) (November 1918), called for unification with a Ukrainian state. It was only in early January 1919 that the first calls were heard in Ruthenia for union with Czechoslovakia.
Prior to this, in July 1918, Rusyn immigrants in the United States had convened and called for complete independence. Failing that, they would try to unite with Galicia and Bukovyna; and failing that, they would demand autonomy, though they did not specify under which state. They approached the American government and were told that the only viable option was unification with Czechoslovakia. Their leader, Gregory Zatkovich, then signed the "Philadelphia Agreement" with Czechoslovak President Tomá? Masaryk, guaranteeing Rusyn autonomy upon unification with Czechoslovakia on 25 October 1918. A referendum was held among American Rusyn parishes in November 1918, with a resulting 67% in favor. Another 28% voted for union with Ukraine, and less than one percent each for Galicia, Hungary and Russia. Less than 2% desired complete independence.
In April 1919, Czechoslovak control on the ground was established, when Czechoslovak troops acting in coordination with Romanian forces arriving from the east - both acting under French auspices - entered the area. In a series of battles they defeated and crushed the local militias of the newly formed Hungarian Soviet Republic, whose proclaimed aim was to "unite the Hungarian, Rusyn and Jewish toilers against the exploiters of the same nationalities". Communist sympathizers accused the Czechoslovaks and Romanians of atrocities, such as public hangings and the clubbing to death of wounded prisoners.
This fighting prevented the arrival of Soviet aid, for which the Hungarian Communists hoped in vain; the Bolsheviks were also too preoccupied with their own civil war to assist. Transcarpathia, as well as a broader region, was occupied by Romania from April 1919 until July or August 1919, and then was again occupied by Hungarian state.
In May 1919, a Central National Council convened in the United States under Zatkovich and voted unanimously to accept the admission of Carpathian Ruthenia to Czechoslovakia. Back in Ruthenia, on May 8, 1919, a general meeting of representatives from all the previous councils was held, and declared that "The Central Russian National Council... completely endorse the decision of the American Uhro-Rusin Council to unite with the Czech-Slovak nation on the basis of full national autonomy." Note that the Central Russian National Council was an offshoot of the Central Ruthenian National Council and represented a Carpathian branch of the Russophiles movement that existed in the Austrian Galicia.[b]
The Hungarian left-wing writer Béla Illés claimed that the meeting was little more than a farce, with various "notables" fetched from their homes by police, formed into a "National Assembly" without any semblance of a democratic process, and effectively ordered to endorse incorporation into Czechoslovakia. He further asserts that Clemenceau had personally instructed the French general on the spot to get the area incorporated into Czechoslovakia "at all costs", so as to create a buffer separating Soviet Ukraine from Hungary, as part of the French anti-Communist "Cordon sanitaire" policy, and that it was the French rather than the Czechoslovaks who made the effective decisions.
The Article 53, Treaty of St. Germain (September 10, 1919) granted the Carpathian Ruthenians autonomy, which was later upheld to some extent by the Czechoslovak constitution. Some rights were, however, withheld by Prague, which justified its actions by claiming that the process was to be a gradual one; and Ruthenians representation in the national sphere was less than that hoped for. Carpathian Ruthenia included former Hungarian territories of Ung County, Bereg County, Ugocsa County and Máramaros County.
After the Paris Peace Conference, Transcarpathia became part of Czechoslovakia. Whether this was widely popular among the mainly peasant population, is debatable; clearly, however, what mattered most to Ruthenians was not which country they would join, but that they be granted autonomy within it. After their experience of Magyarization, few Carpathian Rusyns were eager to remain under Hungarian rule, and they desired to ensure self-determination. According to the Czechoslovak Constitution of 1920, the former region of the Kingdom of Hungary, Ruthenian Land (Ruszka Krajna), was officially renamed to Subcarpathian Ruthenia (Podkarpatská Rus).
In 1920, the area was used as a conduit for arms and ammunition for the anti-Soviet Poles fighting in the Polish-Soviet War directly to the north, while local Communists sabotaged the trains and tried to help the Soviet side.
Zatkovich was appointed governor of the province by Masaryk on April 20, 1920 and resigned almost a year later, on April 17, 1921, to return to his law practice in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. The reason for his resignation was dissatisfaction with the borders with Slovakia. His tenure is a historical anomaly as the only American citizen ever acting as governor of a province that later became a part of the USSR.
|Region of Czechoslovakia|
Subcarpathian Rus within Czechoslovakia (1928)
|12,097 km2 (4,671 sq mi)|
|Historical era||Interwar period|
o Region established
|2 November 1938|
|22 November 1938|
o Name changed to Carpathian Ukraine
|30 November 1938|
o Proclamation of independence as Carpatho-Ukraine
|15 March 1939 1939|
|Today part of||Ukraine|
In 1928, Czechoslovakia was divided into four provinces and one of them was Sub-Carpathian Rus. In the period 1918-1938 the Czechoslovak government decided to bring the very undeveloped region (70% of population illiterate, no industry, herdsman way of life) to the level of Czechoslovakia. Thousands of Czech teachers, policemen, clerks and businessmen went to the region. The Czechoslovak government used a lot of money to build thousands of kilometres of railways, roads, airports, hundreds of schools and residential buildings.
While it was the Rusyns themselves who had arrived at the decision to join the Czechoslovak state, it is debatable whether their decision had any influence on the outcome. At the Paris Peace Conference, several other countries (including Hungary, Ukraine and Russia) laid claim to Carpathian Rus. The Allies, however, had few alternatives to choosing Czechoslovakia. Hungary had lost the war and therefore gave up its claims; Ukraine was seen as politically unviable; and Russia was in the midst of a civil war. Thus the Rusyns' decision to become part of Czechoslovakia can only have been important in creating, at least initially, good relations between the leaders of Carpathian Rus and Czechoslovakia. The Ukrainian language was not actively persecuted in Czechoslovakia during the interwar period unlike in Poland and Romania. Nevertheless, 73 percent of local parents voted against Ukrainian language education for their children in a referendum conducted in Sub-Carpathian Rus in 1937.
In November 1938, under the First Vienna Award--a result of the Munich Agreement--Czechoslovakia ceded southern Carpathian Rus to Hungary. The remainder of Subcarpathian Rus' received autonomy, with Andrej Bródy as prime minister of the autonomous government. After the resignation of the government following a local political crisis, Avhustyn Voloshyn became prime minister of the new government. In December 1938, Subcarpathian Rus' was renamed to Carpathian Ukraine.
Following the Slovak proclamation of independence on March 14, 1939 and the Nazis' seizure of the Czech lands on March 15, Carpathian Ukraine declared its independence as the Republic of Carpatho-Ukraine, with Avhustyn Voloshyn as head of state, and was immediately occupied and annexed by Hungary, restoring provisionally the former counties of Ung, Bereg and partially Máramaros.
On March 23, 1939, Hungary annexed further territories disputed with Slovakia bordering with the west of the former Carpatho-Rus. The Hungarian invasion was followed by a few weeks of terror in which more than 27,000 people were shot dead without trial and investigation. Over 75,000 Ukrainians decided to seek asylum in the USSR; of those almost 60,000 of them died in Gulag prison-camps. Others joined the remaining Czech troops from the already disbanded Czechoslovak Army.
Upon liquidation of Carpatho-Ukraine, in the territory annexed the Governorate of Subcarpathia was installed and divided into three, the administrative branch offices of Ung (Hungarian: Ungi közigazgatási kirendeltség), Bereg (Hungarian: Beregi közigazgatási kirendeltség) and Máramaros (Hungarian: Máramarosi közigazgatási kirendeltség) governed from Ungvár, Munkács and Huszt respectively, having Hungarian and Rusyn language as official languages.
Memoirs and historical studies provide much evidence that in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Rusyn-Jewish relations were generally peaceful. In 1939, census records showed that 80,000 Jews lived in the autonomous province of Ruthenia. Jews made up approximately 14% of the prewar population, however this population was concentrated in the larger towns, especially Mukachevo, where they constituted 43% of the prewar population. After the German occupation of Hungary the pro-Nazi policies of the Hungarian government resulted in emigration and deportation of Hungarian-speaking Jews, and other groups living in the territory were decimated by war. During the Holocaust, 17 main ghettos were set up in cities in Carpathian Ruthenia, from which all Jews were taken to Auschwitz for extermination. Ruthenian ghettos were set up in May 1944 and liquidated by June 1944. Most of the Jews of Transcarpathia were killed, though a number survived, either because they were hidden by their neighbours, or were forced into labour battalions, which often guaranteed food and shelter.
The end of the war had a significant impact on the ethnic Hungarian population of the area: 10,000 fled before the arrival of Soviet forces. Many of the remaining adult men (25,000) were deported to the Soviet Union; about 30% of them died in Soviet labor camps. As a result of this development since 1938, the Hungarian and Hungarian-speaking population of Transcarpathia was recorded differently in various censuses and estimations from that time: 1930 census recorded 116,548 ethnic Hungarians, while the contested Hungarian census from 1941 shows as much as 233,840 speakers of Hungarian language in the region. Subsequent estimations are showing 66,000 ethnic Hungarians in 1946 and 139,700 in 1950, while the Soviet census from 1959 recorded 146,247 Hungarians.
The Soviet takeover of the region started with the East Carpathian Strategic Offensive in the fall of 1944. It consisted of two parts Battle of the Dukla Pass in effort to support the Slovak National Uprising and Battle of Uzhgorod to breakthrough to the Hungarian plains and encircle German troops in Transylvania. On 28 October 1944 upon conclusion of the offensive campaign most territory of Subcarpathian Ruthenia was secured by the Workers-Peasants Red Army (RKKA).
The Czechoslovak government delegation led by minister Franti?ek N?mec arrived in Khust to establish the provisional Czechoslovak administration, according to the treaties between the Soviet and Czechoslovak governments on 8 May 1944. However, after a few weeks, the Red Army and NKVD started to obstruct the delegation's work. According to the Soviet-Czechoslovak treaty, it was agreed that once any liberated territory of Czechoslovakia ceased to be a combat zone of the Red Army, those lands are transferred under a full control of the Czechoslovak state power. Communications between Khust and the government center in exile in London were obstructed and the Czechoslovak officials were forced to use underground radio. On 14 November 1944 the underground radio "Vladislav" has transmitted following message from Khust to London, "the Red Army is subjugating everything to it. We are requesting information, whether it is discussed with the government. Our situation is critical. An open campaign is ongoing for uniting Subcarpathian Ukraine with the Soviet Union. Forced recruitment to the ranks of the Red Army. People are uneducated. Awaiting on your recommendations. We urgently need instructions from the government."
On 5 November 1944, in anticipation of Soviet rule, the Uzhgorod city council introduced Moscow time (2 hours ahead of Central European Time. According to Magdalena Lavrincova, this was perceived by many as a sign of the totalitarianism to come.
In November 1944 in Mukachevo took place a meeting of representatives of Communist party organization from local seven districts who created organization committee to call a party conference. On 19 November 1944 at the conference in Mukachevo was established the Communist Party of Zakarpattia Ukraine. The conference also adopted decision on uniting the Carpathian Ruthenia with the Ukrainian SSR, strengthening of People's committees as organs of revolutionary authority, organization of help for the Red Army, others. The conference also elected its central committee and its first secretary who became Ivan Turyanytsia as well as scheduled in a week to hold a congress of People's committees on 26 November 1944.
The "National Council of Transcarpatho-Ukraine" was set up in Mukachevo under the protection of the Red Army. On November 26 this committee, led by Ivan Turyanitsa (a Rusyn who deserted from the Czechoslovak army) proclaimed the will of Ukrainian people to separate from Czechoslovakia and join Soviet Ukraine. After two months of conflicts and negotiations the Czechoslovak government delegation departed from Khust on February 1, 1945, leaving Carpathian Ukraine under Soviet control.
On 29 June 1945, Czechoslovakia signed a treaty with the Soviet Union, officially ceding the region. Between 1945 and 1947, the new Soviet authorities fortified the new borders, and in July 1947 declared Transcarpathia as "restricted zone of the highest level", with checkpoints on the mountain passes connecting the region to mainland Ukraine.
As of December 1944 the National Council of Transcarpatho-Ukraine set up a special people's tribunal in Uzhgorod to try and condemn all collaborationists with the previous regimes - both Hungary and Carpatho-Ukraine. The court was allowed to hand down either 10 years of forced labour, or death penalty. Several Ruthenian leaders, including Andrej Bródy and Shtefan Fentsyk, were condemned and executed in May 1946. Avgustyn Voloshyn also died in prison. The extent of the repression showed to many Carpatho-Ruthenian activists how it would not have been possible to find an accommodation with the coming Soviet regime as it had been with all previous ones.
After breaking the Greek Catholic Church in Eastern Galicia in 1946, Soviet authorities pushed for the return to Orthodoxy of Greek-Catholic parishes in Transcarpathia too, including by engineering the accident and death of recalcitrant bishop Theodore Romzha on 1 November 1947. In January 1949 the Greek-Catholic Eparchy of Mukachevo was declared illegal; remaining priests and nuns were arrested, and church properties were nationalised and parcelled for public use or lent to the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) as only accepted religious authority in the region.
Cultural institutions were also forbidden, including the russophile Dukhnovych Society, the ukrainophile Prosvita, and the Subcarpathian Scholarly Society. New books and publications were circulated, including the Zakarpatska Pravda (130,000 copies). The Uzhhorod National University was opened in 1945. Over 816 cinematographs were open by 1967 to insure the indoctrination of the population to Marxism-Leninism. The Ukrainian language was the first language of instruction in schools throughout the region, followed by Russian, which was used at the university. Most new generations had a passive knowledge of Rusyn language, but no knowledge about local culture. XIX-century Rusyn intellectuals were labelled as "members of the reactionary class and instruments of Vatican obscurantism". The Rusyn anthem and hymn were banned from public performance. Carpatho-Rusyn folk culture and songs, which were promoted, were presented as part of Transcarpathian regional culture as a local variant of Ukrainian culture.,
As early as 1924, the Comintern had declared all East Slavic inhabitants of Czechoslovakia (Rusyns, Carpatho-Russians, Rusnaks) to be Ukrainians. As the 1946 census, all Rusyns were recorded as Ukrainians; anyone clinging to the old label was considered a separatist and a potential counter-revolutionary.
Already in February 1945, the National Council proceeded to confiscate 53,000 hectares of land from big landowners and redistribute it to 54,000 peasant households (37% of the population). Forced collectivisation of land started in 1946; around 2,000 peasants were arrested during protests in 1948-49 and sent for forced labour in the gulags. Collectivisation, including of mountain shepherds, was completed by May 1950. Central planning decisions set Transcarpatia to become a "land of orchards and vineyards" between 1955 and 1965, planting 98,000 hectares with little results. Attempt to cultivate tea and citrus also failed due to climate. Most vineyards were uprooted twenty years later, during Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign in 1985-87.
The Soviet period also meant the upscaling of industrialisation in Transcarpathia. State-owned lumber mills, chemical and food-processing plants widened, with Mukachevo's tobacco factory and Solotvyno's salt works as the biggest ones, providing steady employment to the residents of the region, beyond the traditional subsistence agriculture. And while traditional labour migration routes to the fields of Hungary or the factories of the Nort-West United States were now closed, Carpathian Ruthens and Romanians could now move for seasonal work in Russia's North and East.
The inhabitants of the oblast grew steadily in the Soviet period, from 776,000 in 1946 to over 1,2 million in 1989. Uzhgorod increased its residents five-fold, from 26,000 to 117,000, and Mukachevo likewise from 26,600 to 84,000. This population increase also reflected demographic changes. The arrival of the Red Army meant the departure of 5,100 Magyars and 2,500 Germans, while the 15-20,000 Jews survivors of the Holocaust also decided to move out before the borders were sealed. By 1945, around 30,000 Hungarians and Germans had been interned and sent for labour camps in Eastern Ukraine and Siberia; while amnestied in 1955, around 5,000 did not come back. In January 1946, 2,000 more Germans were deported. In return, a large number of Ukrainians and Russians moved to Transcarpathia, were they found jobs in the industry, the military, or the civilian administration. By 1989, around 170,000 Ukrainians (mainly from nearby Galizia) and 49,000 Russians were living in Transcarpatia, mainly in new residential blocks in the main towns of Uzhgorod and Mukachevo, where the dominant language had soon turned from Hungarian and Yiddish to Russian. They kept being considered newcomers (novoprybuli) due to their disconnect from the Rusyn- and Hungarian-speaking countryside.
In July 1991 the Ukrainian SSR adopted a law about referendums that lasted until 2012. Soon after the August Putch in Moscow (19-22), on 24 August 1991 the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) of the Ukrainian SSR proclaimed declaration about its independence and also prohibited the Communist Party in the republic. The local nomenklatura remained in confusion for several days following those events. The local People's Movement of Ukraine (Rukh) and other democratic activists were organizing protests across the whole oblast (region). Everywhere were adopting demands to prohibit the Communist Party. The local council of Uzhhorod city renamed the Lenin Square as People's Square. On 30 August 1991 during the multi-thousand protest in Uzhhorod was removed a monument of Lenin. Some other settlements also removed monuments of Lenin, while other resisted that. So was in Tiachiv the municipality of which also adopted decision to remove the monument, yet local "supporters of Lenin" of Roma ethnicity attacked the Rukh activists. Due to support of the Zakarpattia regional council of the putsch organizers in Moscow (GKChP), the local democratic forces were requesting for the council to announce its dissolution. Among those democratic forces were members of the Uzhhorod city council, deputies group "Democratic platform" in the regional council, National Movement of Ukraine, Ukrainian Republican Party, Democratic Party of Ukraine, Hungarian Cultural Federation in Transcarpathia (KMKSZ), Shevchenko Association of Ukrainian Language, regional branch of Prosvita.
Because of the situation in the region, on 26 August 1991 the deputy chairman of the regional council Yuriy Vorobets signed an order to hold an extraordinary session of the council on 30 August, but on 29 August the head of the council Mykhailo Voloshchuk (formerly the 1st secretary of the Zakarpattia regional communist party committee) postponed it by a separate order. On 28 August 1991 the demand for the extraordinary session was supported by the Zakarpattia Democratic League of Youth that previously was part of the Komsomol of Ukraine (LKSMU). To relieve the pressure, Voloshchuk approved a composition of provisional deputy commission for inspection of activity of officials during the putsch that consisted of 17 members mostly of the recently dissolved Communist Party and couple of Rukh members (Mykhailo Tyvodar and Lyubov Karavanska). At the same time Voloshchuk was urgently seeking for other managing positions for other party officials who lost their job with recent liquidation of the party. Concurrently, the regional ispolkom (executive committee) suddenly registered 208 religious communities and transferred them as own property 83 church buildings.
The government of Zakarpattia decided to bet on separatist actions. On 27 August 1991 the Mukachevo city council decided to ask the Zakarpattia regional council to adopt a decision about proclamation of the region as the "Zakarpattia autonomous land of Ukraine". In two days the Mukachevo Raion council has decided to ask the regional council to petition before the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) to "grant the Zakarpattia Oblast status of autonomous republic". The latter decision was supported by the Berehove Raion council, Uzhhorod city council and Svalyava Raion council. On 1 September 1991 in Mukachevo, the Association of Carpatho-Rusyns organized a picket with anti-Ukrainian (Ukrainophobic) slogans and accusations in "forceful Ukrainization of Rusyns". At the gathering were adopted statement with demand for autonomy and carrying out a regional referendum on the issue. On 15 September 1991 the same demand were put forward by KMKSZ. Those Rusyns questioned legality of Zakarpattia unification with the Ukrainian SSR in 1945.
By the end of September 1991 in Zakarpattia Oblast has formed two opposing political camps. One camp pro-Ukrainian has united around the National Movement of Ukraine also included URP, DemPU, Party of Greens, Shevchenko Association of Ukrainian Language, regional branches of Prosvita, Memorial and others. The camp also supported by students of the Uzhhorod State University, several members of the Uzhhorod city council, Greek Catholic Eparchy of Mukachevo, and small faction of deputies in the regional council. The pro-Ukrainian camp was seeking to reelect the regional council. The other camp consisted of sympathizers of the regional nomenklatura officials (and formerly communist) who were supported by Association of Carpatho-Rusyns, later it was joined by KMKSZ (Association of Hungarian Culture of Zakarpattia). The latter camp also was supported by the Zakarpattia eparchy of Russian Orthodox Church, selected members of the Greek Catholic Eparchy of Mukachevo as well as by the majority of the regional council. The camp was aimed to prevent reelection of the regional council and obtain autonomous status for the region.
On 27 September 1991 it was finally announced about the extraordinary session of the regional council. The leadership of the council planned to end its work the same day, but the session stretched until 31 October 1991 and the center of political life in Zakarpattia Oblast had relocated to the regional council and the People's Square in front of the council's building.
In December 1991 Zakarpattia became a part of the independent Ukraine, majority of 92.59% of voters of Zakarpattia oblast approved the declaration of independence of Ukraine. On the same day in Zakarpattia oblast a regional referendum also took place, 78 percent of voters voted for autonomy within Ukraine which was not granted.
|census||Ruthenians, Ukrainians and Rusyns||"Czechoslovaks"
(Czechs and Slovaks)
|1880||244,742 (59.84%)||8,611 (2.11%)||31,745 (7.76%)||105,343 (25.76%)||(not a census option)||16,713 (4.09%)||1,817 (0.44%)||408,971 (100%)|
|1921||372,884 (62.98%)||19,737 (3.33%)||10,460 (1.77%)||102,144 (17.25%)||80,059 (13.52%)||(with "others")||6,760 (1.14%)||592,044 (100%)|
|1930||450,925 (62.17%)||34,511 (4.76%)||13,804 (1.90%)||115,805 (15.97%)||95,008 (13.10%)||12,777 (1.76%)||2,527 (0.35%)||725,357 (100%)|
|3,504 (0.4%)||146,247 (15.9%)||12,169 (1.3%)||18,346 (2%)||Russians
|4,230 (0.4%)||151,949 (14.4%)||10,856 (1%)||23,454 (2.2%)||Russians
|3,746 (0.3%)||158,446 (13.7%)||3,848 (0.3%)||27,155 (2.3%)||Russians
|3,478 (0.3%)||155,711 (12.5%)||2,639 (0.2%)||29,485 (2.4%)||Russians
|3,500 (0.3%)||151,500 (12.1%)||no data||32,100 (2.6%)||Russians
According to a 2015 survey, 68% of the population of Zakarpattia Oblast adheres to Eastern Orthodoxy, while 19% are followers of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church and 7% are Roman Catholics. Protestants and unaffiliated generic Christians make up 1% and 3% of the population respectively. Only one percent of the population does not follow any religion.
The Orthodox community of Zakarpattia is divided as follows:
Carpathian Ruthenia is inhabited mainly by people who self-identify as Ukrainians, many of whom may refer to themselves as Rusyns, Rusnak or Lemko). Places inhabited by Rusyns also span adjacent regions of the Carpathian Mountains, including regions of present-day Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. Ruthenian settlements exist in the Balkans as well.
In the 19th century and the first part of the 20th, the inhabitants of Transcarpathia continued to call themselves "Ruthenians" ("Rusyny"). After Soviet annexation the ethnonym "Ukrainian", which had replaced "Ruthenian" in eastern Ukraine at the turn of the century, was also applied to Ruthenians/Rusyns of Transcarpathia. Most present-day inhabitants consider themselves ethnically Ukrainians, although in the most recent census 10,100 people (0.8% of Zakarpattia Oblast's 1.26 million) identified themselves as ethnically Rusyn.
The following data is according to the Ukrainian census of 2001.
The 1910 Austro-Hungarian census shows 185,433 speakers of Hungarian language, while the Czechoslovak census of 1921 shows 111,052 ethnic Hungarians and 80,132 ethnic Jews, many of whom were speakers of Hungarian language. Much of the difference in these censuses reflects differences in methodology and definitions rather than a decline in the region's ethnic Hungarian (Magyar) or Hungarian-speaking population. According to the 1921 census, Hungarians constituted about 17.9% of the region's total population.
The end of World War II had a significant impact on the ethnic Hungarian population of the area: 10,000 fled before the arrival of Soviet forces. Many of the remaining adult men (25,000) were deported to the Soviet Union; about 30% of them died in Soviet labor camps. As a result of this development since 1938, the Hungarian and Hungarian-speaking population of Transcarpathia was recorded differently in various censuses and estimations from that time: 1930 census recorded 116,548 ethnic Hungarians, while the contested Hungarian census from 1941 shows as much as 233,840 speakers of Hungarian language in the region. Subsequent estimations are showing 66,000 ethnic Hungarians in 1946 and 139,700 in 1950, while the Soviet census from 1959 recorded 146,247 Hungarians.
As of 2004, about 170,000 (12-13%) inhabitants of Transcarpathia declare Hungarian as their mother tongue. Homeland Hungarians refer to Hungarians in Ukraine as kárpátaljaiak.
Memoirs and historical studies provide much evidence that in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Rusyn-Jewish relations were generally peaceful. In 1939, census records showed that 80,000 Jews lived in the autonomous province of Ruthenia. Jews made up approximately 14% of the prewar population, however this population was concentrated in the larger towns, especially Mukachevo, where they constituted 43% of the prewar population. Most of them perished during the Holocaust.
See Carpathian Germans for more information (mainly Germans from Bohemia, Moravia and the territories from present-day middle and eastern Germany) about their settlement in the 16th to 18th centuries.
There are approximately 25,000 ethnic Romani in present-day Transcarpathia. Some estimates point to a number as high as 50,000 but a true count is hard to obtain as many Romani will claim to be Hungarian or Romanian when interviewed by Ukrainian authorities.
They are by far the poorest and least-represented ethnic group in the region and face intense prejudice. The years since the fall of the USSR have not been kind to the Romani of the region, as they have been particularly hard hit by the economic problems faced by peoples all over the former USSR. Some Romani in western Ukraine live in major cities such as Uzhhorod and Mukachevo, but most live in encampments on the outskirts of cities. These encampments are known as "taberi" and can house up to 300 families. These encampments tend to be fairly primitive with no running water or electricity.
For urban European readers in the 19th century, Ruthenia was one origin of the 19th century's imaginary "Ruritania" the most rural, most rustic and deeply provincial tiny province lost in forested mountains that could be imagined. Conceived sometimes as a kingdom of central Europe, Ruritania was the setting of several novels by Anthony Hope, especially The Prisoner of Zenda (1894).
Recently Vesna Goldsworthy, in Inventing Ruritania: the imperialism of the imagination (1998) has explored the origins of the ideas that underpin Western perceptions of the "Wild East" of Europe, especially of Ruthenian and other rural Slavs in the upper Balkans, but ideas that are highly applicable to Transcarpathia, all in all "an innocent process: a cultural great power seizes and exploits the resources of an area, while imposing new frontiers on its mind-map and creating ideas which, reflected back, have the ability to reshape reality."
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In Transcarpathia, descendants of the Thracian Hallstatt culture constituted the Kushtanovytsia culture in the 6th to 3rd centuries BC. In the course of the 2nd and 1st centuries BC the indigenous Thracian and proto-Slavic population of Transcarpathia, western Podilia, Bukovyna, Galicia, and Volhynia intermingled with the Celtic tribes of the La Tàene culture that spread there from central Europe.
In the Bronze Age (ca 1800 BC) Transcarpathia maintained continuity in its painted pottery style of the Stanove culture but gained metalworking skills (swords, knives, sickles, axes) as a result of the arrival of Thracian tribes from Transylvania. Subsequently Transcarpathia came under the control of the Celts, who arrived from the west and brought with them iron-smelting (ca 400-200 bc); the first local coins were minted in the 3rd century BC. Of the eastern nomadic peoples the earliest to influence Transcarpathia were the Iranian-speaking Scythians (expressed locally from the 6th century BC in the Kushtanovytsia culture) and then the Iazyges, a Sarmatian tribe confronting the Romans in Dacia (50 AD); their influence was followed by the invasions of the Turkic-speaking Huns (380 AD), the Avars (558 AD), and, finally, the Ugro-Finnic Magyars (896 AD). In the 2nd century AD neighboring Dacia (Transylvania) became a Roman province, and Roman merchants visited Transcarpathia. In the early Middle Ages Transcarpathia was traversed by Germanic tribes. Remnants of the Ostrogoths (the Gepidae) remained in neighboring Transylvania until the 10th century. The Slavic colonization of Transcarpathia began in the 2nd century, with migration from the north across the mountain passes. By the 8th and 9th centuries the lowlands of Transcarpathia were fairly densely peopled by White Croatians (at the time inhabiting both the north and the south side of the Carpathians). The Slavs in the upper Tysa River and in Transylvania were subject to the Avars (6th-8th centuries) and later to the Bulgarian kingdom (9th-10th centuries). With the collapse of Bulgaria in the second half of the 10th century, Transcarpathia came under the sphere of influence of the Kievan Rus'. The Kievan chroniclers noted the participation of the White Croatians in the campaigns on Byzantium. Following the incorporation of the White Croatians by Prince Volodymyr the Great into his realm, the name Rus' or Ruthenia became entrenched in Transcarpathia.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)