Rusyns fight for broadcasts

Members of minority group Rusínska obroda (Rusyn Revival) say they are still no closer to having their demands for a separate Rusyn radio broadcast met.

The group, an organisation promoting the 50,000-strong Rusyn ethnic group in Slovakia, is prepared to take its plight to the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg if necessary.

"Current broadcasting is offending not just Rusyns but Ukrainians as well. It's not acceptable when you have the journalist put a question in Ukrainian and the respondent answering in Rusyn. We insist on having our own broadcasts," said Rusínska obroda secretary Anna Kuzmiaková.

Living as a small ethnic group near the Slovak border with the Ukraine, the Rusyn community in Slovakia, from which Andy Warhol's mother, Julia, left to go to the US in the last century, was largely forgotten by other Slovaks under communism.

Following the codification of the Rusyn language in 1995 Rusyns were supposed to receive their own broadcasts as part of state-run Slovak Radio's broadcasts for ethnic minorities, said Kuzmiaková.

"But nothing has changed. We've tried all options: going to the Committee for Civil Rights and getting the support of a few politicians. But in spite of this we've had nothing more than promises.

"We've put out our own papers, books and textbooks, but we don't know how to resolve this situation with the radio. We have the feeling that Slovak Radio's management doesn't want to solve this situation," Kuzmiaková said.

Slovak Radio chiefs have rejected the claims that the station is ignoring the Rusyns. The head of the ethnic broadcasting section at Slovak Radio, Vojtech Baca, said giving Rusyns their own broadcast would break Slovak radio laws.

Kuzmiaková said that Rusínska obroda would take their case to the Slovak government and further if necessary. "If the government doesn't solve this we are prepared to go to Strasbourg," she said.

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