Jan 5, 2010

Revenge of The Ruthenians


Timothy Garton Ash offers this awesome anecdote about everyone’s favorite lost people: The Ruthenians.

Professor Turyanitsa tells me the classic East European joke about the old man who says he was born in Austro-Hungary, went to school in Czechoslovakia, married in Hungary, worked most of his life in the Soviet Union, and now lives in Ukraine. "Travelled a lot, then?" asks his interviewer. "No, I never moved from Mukachevo."
Turns out, the Ruthenians/Rusyns/Transcarpathian-Rusyns/rusnatsi (take your pick) have a government, and they want a state. What could go wrong here?

And speaking of lost peoples, don’t look now but someone in the Kremlin just stepped out of the time machine. Apparently, Circassias now present one of the greatest threats to Russian security in the North Caucasus.

Circassians? Weren’t they wiped out in the Clone Wars?

(Thanks Leopolis!)

2 comments:

Emil Perhinschi said...

Timothy Garton Ash is playing some games here ...

The Austrians called "Ruthenians" all the slavs that were not Poles in Galicia/Galizien. I won't get into the nasty debate about "Rus'/Russian/Russin/Malorussian/Ukrainian" ...

Ruthenia existed as a state during WWII. Funny TGA writes an almost sympathetic article about "Ruthenia" and cannot be bothered to have a larger paragraph about the implications. The original joke is a bit harsher: it's about the man from Galicia (or Bukowina in some versions) having five clocks because he cannot keep up with official hour changes, then having none because he was sent to prison five times because of the four "wrong" clocks. Between Skoropadskyi, vagrant Habsburgs, Petliura, Austrians, Germans, Poles, Rumanians and Russians making claims on the natives, funny US university professors eager to put their mark on the ethnic taxonomy of the area (one of those manufactured the "Ruthenian" language and ethnicity out of one of the Slavic dialects spoken in the area), kooks waiting for UFOs and bored teenagers trolling Ukrainian forums, there was and is enough ambiguity in the area to make a honest man pause. It seems TGA is no longer honest ...

From what I know, since about 1995 the "Ruthenian" idea gained traction outside of Ukraine to help potential "Ukrainian" minority members from being "protected" and forced to send their children to Ukrainian-language schools, as mandated by treatises negotiated between Ukraine and neighboring states, and as mandated by quite a few EU regs. If TGA got involved it means things are getting serious, so maybe we'll have to declare ourselves Rurithanians (and declare English as native tongue) to be left alone by busybodies.

Pirates(and)Diplomats said...

Games? When is he not? =)