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As repression of ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine grows, demands for indigenous people status increases

Ethnic Hungarians have been on the territory of present-day Ukraine for 1,100 years

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Dénes Albert

Faced with a new wave of state discrimination, ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine demand to be granted the status of an indigenous nation, daily Magyar Nemzet reports.

President László Brenzovics, on behalf of the Hungarian Cultural Association of Transcarpathia (KMKSZ), wrote a letter on Thursday asking the Ukrainian head of state to classify Hungarians living in Ukraine among the country’s indigenous peoples.

Brenzovics points out that according to UN documents, indigenous peoples are “peoples living in independent countries” because they are descendants of those who lived in the country or geographical area that is part of the present country at the time of conquest or colonization, and they have retained some or all of their social, economic, cultural and political institutions, regardless of their legal status.

Hungary considers the nationalities living in its territory for at least a hundred years, including the Ukrainians, to be a historical nationality, the letter states. In the letter, Brenzovics reminded President Volodymyr Zelensky that the Hungarian ethnic group has lived in the Carpathian Basin for more than a thousand years, including in the territory of Ukraine, so it has every right to claim recognition as an indigenous people.

However, the draft law on the indigenous peoples of Ukraine, recently submitted to the parliament by the Ukrainian head of state, does not classify Hungarians and several other nationalities living in the country as indigenous peoples. Brenzovics’ letter also criticizes the fact that in some cases (for example in the case of Hungarians) it is argued that the given nationality has a motherland, while in other cases (for example in the case of gypsies) their exclusion is not even justified. In the letter, Brenzovich points out that the unacceptability of this type of discrimination was also raised by the Venice Commission.

President Volodymyr Zelenski submitted to the Ukrainian parliament draft bill no. 5506 entitled “On Indigenous People of Ukraine” back in May, defining the Crimean Tatars, Crimean Karaites, and Krymchaks as indigenous peoples. This is important because international treaties signed by Ukraine as well as the country’s constitution and laws grant additional collective rights to indigenous peoples.

These collective rights include cultural, educational, linguistic, and informational rights, of which the Hungarian minority would be deprived as it is not defined as an indigenous group. The ethnic Hungarians living in Transcarpathia have for the past decades been subject to state-sponsored ethnic discrimination, which was and is mainly aimed at the country’s Russian minority.

“The Ukrainian bill, which divides the population of Ukraine into deep-rooted and non-rooted peoples, is reminiscent of the ideals of Nazi Germany,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

Piyterfolvo, Ukraine – October 8, 2020: Youth in protective masks pray in the local Hungarian Reformed Church during coronavirus pandemic.