|“Anti-Hungarian march of Ukrainian Nationalists in Uzhgorod”|
“Ukraine, having lost the Crimea and made war on the Donbass because of denying the rights of its peoples on language, culture, and self-determination, finds it much easier … to instill terror than to think about the preservation of the state in a political form that is suitable not only for Kiev and Lviv, but also for Transcarpathia, Odessa, Kharkov, Donbass.”
in Newsfront, March 25, 2016
Translated from Russian by Tom Winter, April 1, 2016
A few days ago in Transcarpathian Uzhgorod they held a “march of glory,” a torchlight parade of Ukrainian nationalists. The excited crowd marched through the streets under the banner of the Pravy Sektor Azov battalion and the “Carpathian Whip,” shouting offensive imprecations against the Hungarians. The culmination was the slogan “Magyars – to the knives! To the knives! To the knives!”
Nazists from C14 – the combat wing of the Svoboda party – took part in the march. The organizers of this event dedicated to the 77th anniversary of the “Carpathian Ukraine” proclaimed aloud their readiness to go against Hungarian figures. The majority of the participants in the anti-Hungarian march were not residents of Transcarpathia – they had been brought to the “march of glory” from other regions of Ukraine.
The sole purpose of the demonstration of hatred for Hungarians was to intimidate the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia. This community has rejected rabid Ukrainian nationalism and has evinced the desire to somehow distinguish itself from the Ukraine. At least to achieve “separate area” status, if not full autonomy.
In today’s Ukraine, the Hungarian minority does not feel secure. Hungarians have been forced to take part in the war in the Donbass, and on their land there are constant skirmishes with militants from the nationalist battalions that have long been harassing on the Ukrainian-Hungarian section of the border.
Already in the summer of 2015, Pravy Sektor was a participant in the conflict** of local elites in Mukachevo, hoping to get their share of the spoils after the redistribution of the smuggling market. The militants of the illegal armed group, which is not subject to any state structure of Ukraine, opened fire, killing one person, and fought with police, using smoke bombs. Then the fight with police continued on the highway. “Right sector” opened fire with machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and automatics. Three police cars were destroyed, six policemen and three civilians were injured.
The terrorists surviving this fight hid in the woods, and two of them later showed up in Mukachevo. In the attempt to detain them, they took a child hostage and made their getaway.
“He grabbed me and pulled out a hand grenade,” said the boy, who had been the human shield for the terrorists. And then he yelled to the police that they had gone a hundred meters off. First tying the child’s legs, they dragged him into the forest, where they eventually released him. “I started crying because my chest hurt,” – said the little hostage.
At the same time, “Right sector” tried to declare a general mobilization of their supporters. They even set up checkpoints on the outskirts of Kiev and on the roads leading to the Carpathians, in order to prevent the regional authorities from eliminating the terrorists who had taken refuge in the forests.
In fact, in the summer of 2015 Transcarpathia teetered on the brink of an antiterrorist operation. The US Ambassador to Ukraine Jeffrey Payette had to intervene and tone down the flames of conflict. All management of the Transcarpathian region was dismissed, but the Pravy Sektor came out unscathed.
It was then that Transcarpathian Hungarians realized that the state of Ukraine does not guarantee them any protection against armed men in camouflage uniforms, who can easily kill, injure, take hostage any person. Even a child.
After the events in Mukachevo, Hungary strengthened the guard at the Ukrainian border. Rumors spread that in the case of aggravation of the conflict the Hungarian side would defend their compatriots and fellow citizens.
According to various sources, more than 100,000 inhabitants of Transcarpathia hold Hungarian passports. Officially, according to the 2001 census, Hungarians in Transcarpathia numbered 151.5 thousand, or 12 percent of the total population. Despite the fact that the capital of Transcarpathia – Uzhgorod (Ungvar) is only 6.9 percent Hungarian, the city’s history is inextricably linked with the thousand-year history of the Hungarian people. Five of the 13 districts of Transcarpathia are ~one-third Hungarian; in another, fully half, and in the Beregov district – more than three quarters.
The events of 2015 in Mukachevo drew a sharp statement from Janos Lazar, Prime Minister of Hungary: “If they are going to injure the Hungarians in the Carpathian region and they are forced to flee, we all help them all and we will take them all.” Plainly, these words are well remembered in Ukraine: “We will take them all.”
The torchlight procession of nationalists in March 2016 and the calls for chopping up Magyars sufficed to instill fear in the Transcarpathian Hungarians, fear which will now stay with them. And taking root with the fear, a concomitant desire to escape to Hungary.
It is no coincidence that the march in Uzhgorod was timed on the eve of the Day of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848-1849 (or, in current political language, “the Hungarian Spring”), which is annually celebrated on March 15th. No coincidence, either as to the site of the anti-Hungarian slogans: it was the square named after Sándor Petőfi, one of the leaders of the revolution, and the national poet of Hungary.
In this holy place for each Hungarian “Magyars to the knives” was not just an insult, but another desecration of a national symbol of Hungary. Similarly, more than once or twice Ukrainian nationalists have attacked the “Hungarian Victory” monument on Veretsky pass. And after the 2014 coup in Ukraine the monument was doused with petrol bombs and set on fire. And they disfigured the stones of the monument with: “Death to the Magyars!”
This is one of the traditions of Ukrainian radical nationalism: the land will either be Ukrainian or desert.*** So it was with the Crimea, when they shouted: “Crimea — Ukraine, or desert!” So it was with the Donbas. Now the same thing is happening with Transcarpathia, but instead of “Moskals to the knives!” the Nazis are shouting “Magyars to the knives!” in hope of driving them out. Then the Hungarian houses, gardens, vineyards, their land – all this will go into the hands of “Ukrainian patriots.”
There is no other meaning to the “march of glory”. They tied it to the 77th anniversary of the “Carpathian Ukraine” – that pseudo-state, which existed whether one day, or four, and a reminder that it requested the recognition of Adolf Hitler.
The spur to the intimidation of the Hungarian population is clear enough: toward the end of 2015, 114 settlements of Transcarpathia declared their desire to create a separate district with its center in Beregovo in the jurisdiction of the Transcarpathian oblast of Ukraine. “The situation in areas densely populated by Hungarians, after the recent elections, gives every reason for the formation of such an administrative unit,” said Laszlo Brenzovich, representative of the Transcarpathian Hungarians in the Ukrainian parliament.
But for Kiev, any hint of autonomy is separatism. Although de facto autonomy exists: Transcarpathian Hungarians
- receive education in their native language,
- do not want to learn Ukrainian,
- have a representative in the European Parliament on the list of the Hungarian party Fidesz, and
- vote in national elections in Hungary.
Any “decentralization” proclaimed by Kiev absolutely does not suit the Hungarians, since it does not guarantee them any security, nor the ability to manage their territory; furthermore the rampant Galician-style Ukrainization directly threatens the development of the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia.
Ukraine, having lost the Crimea and made war on the Donbas because of denying the rights of its peoples on language, culture, and self-determination, finds it much easier to arrange a demonstration to instill terror than to think about the preservation of the state in a political form that is suitable not only for Kiev and Lviv, but also for Transcarpathia, Odessa, Kharkov, Donbass. Then they wouldn’t have to scream in each region: “So-and-so to the Knives! To the knives! To the knives! “
But — so far — the Transcarpathian Hungarians were lucky that they are not the residents of Odessa.
The Odessans they simply burned.
**For a full report on the Pravy Sektor fight at Mukachevo, click this link.
***”Ukraine, or desert:” the word I rendered “desert” is “people-less,” utterly depopulated.