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Rusyn District/Rus’kyi okruh

Rusyn District/Rus’kyi okruh — unofficial name for a provisional administrative-territorial entity created on Rusyn-inhabited lands in the Hungarian Kingdom (1849-1850). In October 1849, following the Habsburg victory over the Hungary’s revolutionaries, the Austrian imperial government reorganized the administrative structure of the Hungarian Kingdom. Croatia, Slavonia, and Transylvania were detached from the kingdom and its remaining territory was divided into five military districts, each of which was in turn subdivided into civil districts. The northeastern part of Hungary was made part of the Kosice military district, which was subdivided into three civil districts. One of these, the Uzhhorod civil district, encompassed *Uzh/Ung, *Bereg, *Ugocha/Ugocsa, and *Maramorosh counties. The Uzhhorod district was nominally headed by Ignac von Willetz, although in practice it was administered by his advisor and deputy, the Rusyn political leader Adol’f *Dobrians’kyi. Dobrians’kyi viewed the Uzhhorod civil district as the first step toward the creation of a Rusyn District, in which he could carry out his program for Rusyn national *autonomy.

The first official announcements and decrees published in Uzhhorod by Dobrians’kyi (November 1849) appeared in both the Rusyn and Hungarian languages. Rusyn was introduced into schools, and official names and signs were written in Rusyn, German, and Hungarian. Dobrians’kyi also appointed Rusyns to lower-level administrative and civil service posts. Rusyns living in *Zemplyn/Zemplen, *Sharysh/Saros, and *Spish/Szepes counties also called for unification with the Rusyn District. For its part, the *Greek Catholic Eparchy of Mukachevo adopted a rather paradoxical view of these Rusyn national demands. Whereas some priests in the circle of Aleksander *Dukhnovych were in the forefront of the national movement, the church hierarchy remained pro-Hungarian in orientation and opposed Dobrians’kyi’s initiatives. Consequently, the eparchial chancery in Uzhhorod opposed the appointment of Rusyns to local administrative offices, arguing that such appointments would alienate *Slovaks and *Magyars from the Greek Catholic Church. Despite such opposition, Dobrians’kyi managed to achieve a degree of success in the local political sphere. But this administrative experiment was not to last long, and on March 28, 1850, the Uzhhorod (“Rusyn”) civil district was abolished. The district did, however, promote for the first time the view that Rusyns be officially designated as a distinct people. Hence, the Rusyn District became a unique example and precedent for future Rusyn political and administrative demands.

Ivan Pop

Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.
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