Odessa TV Host Drops the “R” Word – Ruthenians!


Dear Readers:

I saw this piece today in the Navigator.  The writer is Mikhail Ryabov in Kiev.  The headline is:  “Odessa TV Host:  Why do Crimean Tatars have the right to autonomy, but Ruthenians don’t?”

The reference is to Grigory Kvasniuk who hosts a TV show called “Pravda”.  The stolid and heavy-set Kvasniuk is a dissident voice in Banderite Ukraine.   Here he is championing the rights of Ruthenians to their own autonomy within Ukraine.  Here is the episode in question from his show, if you click on it you will get a message saying “No embeddy, but clicky here to watch this on youtube”, so if you click on that link it will bring you to youtube where you can watch it.  The show is just under an hour long.

With that business out of the way, let us give some historical background to the points which Mr. Kvasniuk is making.

Who Are Ruthenians?

The word “Ruthenian” is the normal English translation of the Russian/Ukrainian word “Rusin”.  Apparently the ancient Romans called some Celtic tribe “Rutheni”, and then the name got swapped out to people who either were, or eventually became, Eastern Slavs.  Here is the Russian wiki entry for Ruthenians, which gives a complete history and diagnostic of this ethnos, ranging from DNA haplogroups to language to statistical portions of various populations.  Nowadays Ruthenians  are considered to be an ethnic/linguistic/religious minority who dwell in the Carpathian mountains, including a swath of Galicia.  They speak an Eastern Slavic dialect, not unlike Russian or Ukrainian or Belorussian.  Religion-wise, they are Christians, hailing from either Greek Catholic or Uniate faith.  What this means, in political terms, bottom line, is that they do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Moscow patriarchy.

Until recently, “Ruthenian” was pretty much synonymous with “Ukrainian”, or in fact with any Eastern Slav, excluding only Moscovite Russians.  Due to the fact, probably, that Moscovite Russians had their own titular nation-state, whereas the rest of the Ruthenians were scattered all over the place and living under the authority of several different other nation states.

Some typical Ruthenians

The English wiki entry gives a pretty good summary of what happened around the time (mid-19th century) when Ukrainian nationalism was born, as a reaction to oppression within the Hapsburg Empire:

“On request of Mykhajlo Levitsky, in 1843 the term [Ruthenian] became the official name for Ukrainians in the Austrian Empire.  A number of Ukrainian nationalists, such as Mykhailo Drahomanov and Ivan Franko, perceived the term as narrow-minded, provincial, and Habsburg – true members of the intelligentsia and around 1900 more and more Ruthenians began to call themselves by the self-designated name Ukrainians. With the emergence of Ukrainian nationalism during the mid-19th century the term Ruthenian as an endonym declined among Ukrainians, and it fell out of use in eastern and central Ukraine. Most people in the western region of Ukraine followed suit later in the 19th century. After the expansion of Soviet Ukraine after World War II, groups who previously had not considered themselves Ukrainians were merged into the Ukrainian identity.”

Ruthenians Deprived Of Status

As the wiki entry points out, it was Communist policy, first under the Bolsheviks, and then in the post-WWII Stalin era, to pump up the Ukrainian ethnos and titular state, often at the expense of other minorities, including the Ruthenians.  There are those out there, on the blogosphere and elsewhere (with whom I have daily and almost endless debates) who even deny that there is such a thing as a Ukrainian nation.  They say it is a completely artificial construct, the product of rootless intellectuals within the Hapsburg Empire (a point of view to which, in truth, I am partially prone myself), but these internet warriors take their point too far:  They see at work here, in this creation and endowment of the Ukrainian nation, the sinister hand of shady third parties (hint:  the ethnos of whom begins with the letter “J”) who are dedicated to the destructon of Moscovite Russia, and who with Nostradamic-like precision were able to foresee — many decade in advance — just what awful destruction this Trojan horse (=”Ukraine”) would later wreak upon the Russian world.  In their view, the Bolshevik program of “self-determination” for national minorities was a terrible mistake.  All of the Eastern Slavs should have been simply Russified (i.e., “Moscovized”), and boom!  done with it.

WWI in the Balkans: The Meat Grinder

Well, I don’t agree with that point of view, obviously.  On the other hand, I do concede the irony that Lenin’s idealistic call for the right of nations and ethnic minorities to self-determination, was not always carried out as well in practice as it looked on paper.  And the Ruthenians are simply Exhibit A to this point.  Basic point being:  All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

As with all attempts of all empires to balance nations and ethnicities, there are winners and there are losers.  The Kurds are another example of a “loser” nation who did not get their due after the Meat Grinder of World War I.  Similarly, the Bolsheviks, after the bloody carnage of the Russian Civil War, staked the stability of the new Soviet multi-national state, upon the idealized notion (born in the mid-1800’s, as we have seen) of a “Ukrainian” ethnos and state.  There was method behind this madness, and it had nothing to do with the Rothschilds nor any other bankers indeed:

Bolsheviks considered Ukrainians to be better Communists, more working class, closer to Russians, both linguistically and from the religious attitude.  Yes, religion played a key role in all of this, even in atheistic Communist times.  It was no accident that Stalin, both during and after the Great Patriotic War, forged a close alliance of the Soviet/Russian state with the Russian Orthodox Church.  Ukrainians, being mostly Orthodox, fit into this mold better than Ruthenians, who, being Greek Catholics, are not subject to the authority of the Moscow Patriarch, and thus outside his chain of command.

Big Brother Iosif: The alliance of Church and State

In summary:  Ukrainians were convenient, and they were given everything by the Communists.  Ruthenians were inconvenient and they were passed over for promotion.  I mean, they were considered to be nice people, just not deserving of their own autonomy.

But now, it seems, the worm has turned once again: 

Irony of ironies!  It is now in Russia’s interest to encourage Ruthenians to lobby for their own autonomy within Ukraine.  Why?  Because, all these decades later, Ukraine became a blood enemy of Russia!

Which brings us back to our television host and his trenchant question posed to Ukrainan President Petro Poroshenko:  “You spoke about giving autonomy to the Crimean Tatars.  And the Ruthenians responded:  What about us?  How many years have we lobbied to be recognized as a people?  And we have even been recognized as such by neighboring countries:  By Slovakia.  Hungary.  By the President of Romania!  Where is our leader, the priest, whom you threw into prison?”

By “leader”, he is referring to a man named Dmitry Sidor, whom the Ukrainian security services arrested last October and accused of “separatism”.  Sidor led a meeting of the Association of Carpathian Ruthenians, which called for establishing an autonomous Ruthenian state.

Which the Ukrainian regime, the product of decades of Communist munificence and special treatment, considers to be an outrageous and unacceptable, even criminal demand!

This entry was posted in Friendship of Peoples, Human Dignity, Russian History, The Great Game and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Odessa TV Host Drops the “R” Word – Ruthenians!

  1. yalensis says:

    P.S. – in the posted youtube piece, the package in question (about the Ruthenians) is the penultimate segment in Kvasniuk’s show, it starts at :45 minutes in. But the entire show is very worth watching (or listening to), as is always the case with this particular pundit.


  2. Mao Cheng Ji says:

    Huh, I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned the most famous Rusyns in America: the guys (and the gals) from The Deer Hunter…


    • yalensis says:

      Oh, that’s easy to explain: I never saw that movie. I heard of it, but never saw it.
      But I googled it just now , and see that it is about the lives of some Russian-Americans who get captured in Vietnam.
      And they bring their quaint customs with them, like drinking vodka and playing Russian roulette!
      Now, it would have been more civilized, if they just played a game of faro with their captors! Like in a Pushkin novella.


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