January 10, 2017 –
By Eduard Popov for Fort Russ – translated by J. Arnoldski –
“Transcarpathia is not Galicia”
Over the past year, the regional councils of a number of regions of Ukraine (Poltava and Ivano-Frankivsk) have adopted laws demanding that President Poroshenko empower regions’ rights. Kiev has regarded these as manifestations of separatism. Now the baton has been taken by social organizations not only in Lvov, but also Transcarpathia. Indeed, it appears that Transcarpathis is gradually regaining the status of the main “separatist region” in Western Ukraine.
On October 12th, 2016, the chairman of the Transcarpathian Regional Council, Mikhail Rivis, demanded that the region be allocated more funds for developing infrastructure. Otherwise, Rivis threatened, Transcarpathia might secede from Ukraine. On December 2nd, in the Transcarpathian capital of Uzhgorod, a meeting of Hungarian youth and local deputies was held, whose participants proclaimed support for Rivis’ statement that the region could separate from Ukraine and establish autonomy. Hungarian activists then called on President Poroshenko to sign a special agreement which was read aloud by the leader of the initiative, Hungarian activist Ivan Farkosz.
Farkosz stated: “We invite Kiev to conclude this agreement on delineating powers, which would allow the Hungarian population to live in Ukraine with dignity. We support the opinion of the head of the Transcarpathian Regional Council, Mikhail Rivis, who announced the existence of objective preconditions for potential secession from Ukraine. If Kiev wants to see this region as part of its state, we demand the establishment of a quota of 20% for representatives of Hungarian communities in the Transcarpathian Regional Council and television broadcasts in Hungarian.”
Hungarians constitute approximately 12% of the population of Transcarpathia and are widely represented in councils on all levels. The raising of their demands for representation to 20% suggests that they have a feel for power and are actually dictating their 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 Uzhgorod and the local Hungarian community, the Polish community of the capital of Galicia, Lvov, has also asserted its rights. In Lvov on December 25th, a forum of the Polish community of the Lvov region was held whose participants demanded that the Kiev government grant economic autonomy to the region. The chairman of the association of Poles in Lvov, Sergey Lukyanenko, stated that the region is 50 years behind Poland in economic development. Lukyanenko added: “Poland will allow the residents of the Lvov region to realize themselves.” He also noted that Lvov “still has a chance.”
It is worth noting that Poles sympathize with the Hungarians of Transcarpathia. When in March 2016 in Uzhogord there was a procession of Ukrainian neo-Nazis shouting the slogan “Knife Hungarians!,” this caused an outburst of indignation not only in Hungary, but also in Poland itself. As a point of comparison, the Ukrainian foreign ministry and Ukrainian state expressed indignation at Warsaw after one person (only one!) yelled “death to Ukrainians!” at a march in Polish Przemysl. Ukraine, however, chose not to notice the mass calls for killing the Hungarians of Transcarpathia who have inhabited the region for more than a thousand years.