Hungarians in Ukraine

The Hungarians in Ukraine (Hungarian: Ukrajnai magyarok, Ukrainian: Угорці в Україні) number 156,600 people according to the Ukrainian census of 2001 and are the fifth largest national minority in the country. They are the seventh biggest Hungarian diaspora in the world. Hungarians are largely concentrated in the Zakarpattia Oblast (particularly in Berehove Raion and Berehove city) where they form the largest minority at 12.1% of the population (12.7% when native language is concerned). In the area along the Ukrainian border with Hungary (Tisza Valley), Hungarians form the majority.

Hungarian in Ukraine
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Zakarpattia Oblast
Predominantly Hungarian (95.4%), Ukrainian, other
Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Prostestant (Calvinism)
Ethnic map of Zakarpattia Oblast in 2001.
  Ukrainians (incl. Rusyns)
  mixed Ukrainians (incl. Rusyns) and Russians

Concentrated primarily in Zakarpattia (Trans-Carpathian), in Hungarian those Hungarians are referred to as Kárpátaljai magyarok (Transcarpathian Hungarians), while Zakarpattia is referred to as Kárpátalja.


Today's territory of Zakarpattia was part of the Kingdom of Hungary since its foundation in the year 1000. From 1867, Hungary was a constituent part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until the latter's demise at the end of World War I. The Zakarpattia region was briefly part of the short-lived West Ukrainian National Republic in 1918 and occupied by the Kingdom of Romania at end of that year. It was later recaptured by Hungary in the summer of 1919. After the defeat of the remaining Hungarian armies in 1919, the Paris Peace Conference concluded the Treaty of Trianon that awarded Zakarpattia to the newly formed Czechoslovakia as the Subcarpathian Rus, one of the four main regions of Czechoslovakia, the others being Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia.[1]

During the World War II German occupation of Czechoslovakia, the southern, Hungarian majority part of the region was awarded to Hungary under the First Vienna Award in 1938. The remaining portion was constituted as an autonomous region of the short-lived Second Czechoslovak Republic. After the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia on March 15, 1939 and the Slovak declaration of an independent state, Ruthenia declared its independence (Republic of Carpatho-Ukraine) but it was immediately occupied and later annexed by Hungary.[1]

When the Soviet Army crossed the pre-1938 borders of Czechoslovakia in 1944, Soviet authorities refused to allow Czechoslovak governmental officials to resume control over the region, and in June 1945, President Edvard Beneš formally signed a treaty ceding the area to the Soviet Union. It was then incorporated into the Ukrainian SSR. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, it became part of independent Ukraine as the Zakarpattia Oblast.[1]

Situation of Hungarians in independent Ukraine

Language proficiency of all dominant languages in Zakarpattia Oblast by the 2001 census
Percentage of Hungarians who called their native language Hungarian in Zakarpattia Oblast by the 2001 census

Hungary was the first country to recognize Ukraine's independence. Árpád Göncz, who was president of Hungary at the time, was invited to visit the region, and a joint declaration, followed in December 1991 by a state treaty, acknowledged that the ethnic Hungarian minority had collective as well as individual rights. The treaty provided for the preservation of their ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious identities; education at all levels in the mother tongue; and the ethnic Hungarians' participation in local authorities charged with minority affairs.[2]

It is quite common among the Hungarian minority in Ukraine holds besides Ukrainian citizenship also Hungarian citizenship, although currently Ukrainian law does not recognise dual citizenship.[3][4]

In the 2014 European Parliament election in Hungary Andrea Bocskor who lives in Ukraine (in the city Berehove) was elected into the European Parliament (for Fidesz).[4] Hence, Bocskor, who is ethnically Hungarian and a citizen of Hungary,[5] became the first elected member of the European Parliament who additionally holds a Ukrainian passport.[4]

Since 2017, the Hungary–Ukraine relations rapidly deteriorated over the issue of Ukraine's education law.[6][7] Ukraine's 2017 education law makes Ukrainian the required language of primary education in state schools.[8][9] László Brenzovics, the only ethnic Hungarian in the Supreme Council of Ukraine, said that "There is a sort of purposeful policy, which besides narrowing the rights of all minorities, tries to portray the Hungarian minority as the enemy in Ukrainian public opinion."[10] The situation since then has been ongoing in problem, as Hungary continues to block Ukraine's attempt to integrate within the EU and NATO over disputes on minority rights.[11]

Minority rights

Signs in Hungarian language in Berehove, Ukraine

Residents in seven of Mukachivskyi Raion's villages have the option to learn the Hungarian language in a school or home school environment. The first Hungarian College in Ukraine is in Berehovo, the II. Rákoczi Ferenc College. Currently there are 71 Hungarian Schools in Ukraine with 16,000 enrolled students.[12]


The Hungarian Democratic Federation in Ukraine (UMDSZ) is the only nationally registered Hungarian organization. It was established in October 1991 by the Hungarian Cultural Federation in Transcarpathia (KMKSZ, which has suspended its membership since 1995), the Cultural Federation of Hungarians in Lviv, and the Association of Hungarians in Kyiv. The Hungarian Cultural Federation in Transcarpathia is associated with the political party KMKSZ – Hungarian Party in Ukraine, which was established in February 2005. In March 2005, the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice also registered the Hungarian Democratic Party in Ukraine upon the initiative of the UMDSZ.[13] Also Zoltán Lengyel was elected as mayor of Mukachevo after the election on 1 December 2008. UMDSZ also won city municipalities of Berehove, Vynohradiv and Tiachiv in this election.

Notable personalities


Percentage of Hungarian native speakers in Zakarpattia oblast according to 2001 census

The following data is according to the Ukrainian census of 2001.

Distribution of ethnic Hungarians in cities in the Zakkarpattia Oblast[14]
City name Population Number of ethnic Hungarians Percentage
Uzhhorod (Ungvár) 115,600 8,000 6.9%
Berehovo (Beregszász) 26,600 12,800 48.1%
Mukacheve (Munkács) 81,600 7,000 8.5%
Khust (Huszt) 31,900 1,700 5.4%
Chop (Csap) 8,919 3,496 39.2%
Distribution of ethnic Hungarians in raions in the Zakkarpattia Oblast[14]
Raion name Population Number of ethnic Hungarians Percentage
Berehivskyi Raion (Beregszászi járás) 54,000 41,200 76.1%
Velykyy Bereznyi Raion (Nagybereznai járás) 28,200
Vynohradiv Raion (Nagyszőlősi járás) 118,000 30,900 26.2%
Volovets Raion (Volóci járás) 25,500
Irshavskyi Raion (Ilosvai járás) 100,900 100 0.1%
Mizhhiria Raion (Ökörmezői járás) 49,900
Mukachivskyi Raion (Munkácsi járás) 101,400 12,900 12.7%
Perechyn Raion (Perecsenyi járás) 32,000
Rakhiv Raion (Rahói járás) 90,900 2,900 3.2%
Svaliava Raion (Szolyvai járás) 54,900 400 0.7%
Tiachiv Raion (Técsői járás) 171,900 5,000 2.9%
Uzhhorodskyi Raion (Ungvári járás) 74,400 24,800 33.4%
Khust Raion (Huszti járás) 96,900 3,800 3.9%

Cultural heritage

Hungarian cultural heritage in Ukraine includes medieval castles:

See also


  1. Subtelny, Orest (2000). Ukraine: A History. University of Toronto Press. pp. 448. ISBN 0-8020-8390-0.
  2. Kovrig, Bennett (2000) ‘Partitioned nation: Hungarian minorities in Central Europe’, in: Michael Mandelbaum (ed.), The new European Diasporas: national minorities and conflict in Eastern Europe, New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, pp. 19-80.
  3. Constitution of Ukraine: Article 4 Archived 2011-05-21 at the Wayback Machine
    Dual Identities, Kyiv Post (July 9, 2009)
    The Law of Ukraine On Citizenship of Ukraine: Article 2 Archived 2008-12-04 at the Wayback Machine
  4. (in Ukrainian) A citizen of Ukraine has become a Member of European Parliament, Ukrayinska Pravda (3 July 2014)
  5. "Ukraine defends education reform as Hungary promises 'pain'". The Irish Times. 27 September 2017.
  6. "Hungary-Ukraine relations hit new low over troop deployment". New Europe. 26 March 2018.
  7. "Ukrainian Language Bill Facing Barrage Of Criticism From Minorities, Foreign Capitals". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 24 September 2017.
  8. "Criticism of Ukraine's language law justified: rights body". Reuters. 8 December 2017.
  9. Gorondi, Pablo (November 14, 2018). "Ukraine's Hungarian minority threatened by new education law". Associated Press.
  10. Kentish, Portia (March 12, 2020). "Hungary and Ukraine continue war of words over minority rights". Emerging Europe | Intelligence, Community, News.
  11. "Скільки дітей в Україні навчаються мовами національних меншин?". Слово і Діло.
  12. "Hungarian Government Office for Minorities Abroad". Archived from the original on April 26, 2008.
  13. Source: State Statistics Committee of Ukraine Archived 2007-09-11 at the Wayback Machine