.......Rusyn'ska Obroda Editorial Staff Reports on State of Rusyn Press in Slovakia

Thanks to Rich Custer for providing the information!

Will We Celebrate the Next Anniversary?

We are celebrating the fifth anniversary of our newspaper. This short period was characterized by eventful development. The editorial staff had to start from scratch: in a basement room of the Aleksander Duchnovic Theatre in Presov, with borrowed office furniture, typewriters, without a penny, and without any salary for the editors for several months, without any subscribers or readers... The enormous effort of the editorial staff during the first two demanding years of 1991 and 1992 brought about positive results, and the newspaper experienced its most prosperous period in 1993 and 1994. These years were characterized by a defined profile of the newspaper as a basis for the cultivation and devleopment of the Rusyn language, and its codification. The newspaper became a medium bringing the Rusyns in Slovakia information from their region and about themselves. It meant a significant contribution to the process of rebirth of the Rusyn national spirit, the revival of the Rusyn people. These years were successful in increasing the number of readers and subscribers. In addition, it was a time of consituting the editorial office, and furnishing it with appropriate equipment, with assistance of the government.

The two years of prosperity were followed by the years of the most serious problems ever faced by our staff, mainly because of significant cuts in 1995 and 1996 of government subsidies allocated for the publishing of our, and your, newspaper. The publication of the only newspaper in the Rusyn language was endangered despite the fact that the Rusyn language codification ceremony took place in Bratislava on January 27, 1995. Our newspaper and editorial staff also deserve credit for this achievement because we paved the way for the codification of our Rusyn language. Though facing difficult times, the Narodny novynky newspaper still exists thanks to the devotion of our editorial staff who have been working as volunteers, without any salary, living on unemployment benefits since September 1995. Ironically, these were the busiest times of our existence because we had to and still have to seek sponsors to cover a part of our production and operating costs. Since July 1, 1996, we have been working without any unemployment benefits because we cannot make a claim to them anymore. I wish to express my thanks to the whole six-member staff for their self-sacrifice.

The recent period brought a change in the profile of our newspaper: the merely cultural-social and national revival topics were complemented with the topic of economy and advertisements. It should be noted that we focused on Rusyn businessmen and company managers, who returned to us much-appreciated financial support.

Today, when we are celebrating the fifth anniversary of our newspaper and of the editorial office preparing Rusyn'ska Obroda's periodicals and non-periodical publications, we are facing a dilemma: will we celebrate the next anniversary?! Why? Because despite the help of Rusyn businessmen and some of our readers and supporters, despite the great effort and self-sacrifice of the editorial staff, our newspaper is necessarily approaching its end. Rather than journalists, we are administrators trying to procure some advertisers. Though we took numerous measures, including working without salary, and the change from a weekly to a bi-weekly, I am sorry to inform you that from now on, our newspaper will be published as a monthly. This is a consequence of the lowest government subsidies for the publication of periodicals in the Rusyn language in the entire period of our existence! It is only the government, notably the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic, that can help to save the newspaper representing one of the few achievements of the Rusyns in Slovakia after the 1989 revolution, a base enabling us to redeem and develop the Rusyn literary language, a platform for presenting the revival effort of the Rusyns, a helper in developing Rusyn culture. I appeal to the relevant persons: do you wish to ruin the Rusyn language and culture, the only newspaper and magazine published in the Rusyn language in Slovakia?! We would like to believe that this is not your intention. Nonetheless, the recent decisions concerning government subsidies for our periodicals testifies the opposite. Is the end really so close? The end of Rusyn periodicals in Slovakia will mean a big loss not only for the Rusyns in Slovakia and abroad, but also for Slovak culture, or culture in a broader context. It was the European Federation of Minorities, Maisons de Pays, whose Second Congress and Symposium under the motto, "Languages and Culture of Nations and Minorities" will be opened in Presov on August 23, 1996, with the organizational assistance of Rusyn'ska Obroda and the editorial staff of Rusyn periodicals, which has been pursuing as its main goal the preservation and development of little-used languages and of the culture of minorities which do not have a mother country. This is also the case with the Rusyn language and culture of the Rusyns in Slovakia, including periodicals and non-periodical publications of Rusyn'ska Obroda as a founding member of Maisons de Pays. Are these arguments cogent enough to ensure that the years of poverty will be replaced with a period of flourishing and prosperity of the Rusyn press, years of enhancing the Rusyn written and spoken language, the period of actual revival of Rusyn culture and of the Rusyn people? Or, will August 21, 1996 really remain the last anniversary of our newspaper, which we may today, in the period of great poverty and big problems, celebrate only symbolically?!

Aleksander Zozuljak
Rusyn'ska Obroda Editorial Office
submitted to the European Federation of Minorities Maisons de Pays at their Second Congress and Symposium in Presov, Slovakia, August 23, 1996.

Europe is Coming to Presov

We have reached the point at which our organization is in charge of the organization of the Second Congress of the European Federation of Minorities. Why am I talking about reaching a specific point? While in the beginnings of our movement, there were many people accustomed to old stereotypical views of our nationality, and while in the first years of the 1990s we were working our way to the present concept of Rusyn unity, thus in 1996, we were entrusted by the European Federation of Minorities with organizing its Second Congress. For everyone to understand the importance of this decision, it should be noted that the European Federation closely cooperates with the Council of Europe, and the Second Congress will be held under the auspices of Daniel Tarschys, General Secretary of the Council of Europe, and Ivan Hudec, Minister of Culture of the Slovak Republic, and with financial support from the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic. Necessarily, it entails the recognition of the Rusyns both on this territory of Slovakia and of all Europe. From this point of view, the Second Congress of the European Federation of Minorities - Maisons de Pays, which will be held in Presov from August 22 to 25, 1996, means for the Rusyns, without exaggeration, a great historical victory. Just remember the efforts of our ancestors, our patriots, Aleksander Duchnovic and Aleksander Pavlovic, to bring the name "Rusyn" into the awareness at least of Central Europe, or of the Austro-Hungarian Empire's lands, with the aim to improve the national and economic situation of the Rusyns. Let us remember our educated people of the former republic [Czechoslovakia], of the war time, and of the period of totalitarianism when the particular conditions made us give up our national identity, with many of us having lost our health and even our lives. Let us recall Bishop Pavel Gojdic, Professor A. Farinic; let us recall the numerous anonymous and known Rusyns who kept the flag of Rusyn identity flying. However, we would not do justice if we only mentioned individual personalities, because the main component which deserves credit for our present national revival is our people which has never forgotten its speech, its songs and culture, and for more than 1000 years has been preserving its riches. In this way, it enriched Europe and international culture. It remains its own nation, and Europe and the world are about to express their thanks through their delegates who will shake our hands and look into our eyes. I believe that we, too, may look in their eyes without hesitation.

Vasyl' Turok
Chairman of the World Council of Rusyns
Member of the Committee, Maisons de Pays
submitted to the European Federation of Minorities Maisons de Pays at their Second Congress and Symposium in Presov, Slovakia, August 23, 1996.

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