Pannonian Rusyns (Rusyn: Русини, romanized: Rusynŷ), also known as Pannonian Rusnaks (Rusyn: Руснаци, romanized: Rusnat͡sŷ), are a regional minority subgroup of the Rusyns, an Eastern Slavic people. Their communities are located in southern regions of the Pannonian plain (hence the Pannonian designation), mainly in the regions of Vojvodina (in modern Serbia), and Slavonia (in modern Croatia). In both countries, they are officially recognized as a national minority, and have several minority institutions and organizations.
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In some non-Slavic languages, they are sometimes also referred to by certain exonymic and somewhat archaic terms, such as Pannonian Ruthenes or Pannonian Ruthenians, but those terms are not used in the native Rusyn language. Such terms are also imprecise, since Ruthenian designations have several wider meanings, both in terms of their historical uses and ethnic scopes, that are encompassing various East Slavic groups.
Pannonian Rusyns are descendants of 18th century migrant communities, that came from northeastern (Carpathian) regions, still inhabited today by other groups of (Carpathian) Rusyns, who live in southwestern Ukraine, northeastern Slovakia, southeastern Poland, northern Romania, and northeastern Hungary.
During the 18th century, state authorities of the Habsburg Monarchy initiated several programs of re-population and colonization of various regions that were recently liberated from the Ottoman rule. Since 1745, groups of Rusyns from north-eastern Carpatian regions of the Kingdom of Hungary (eastern parts of modern Slovakia and Carpathian regions of modern Ukraine) started to migrate towards southern regions, including Bačka, Srem and Slavonia. The first group settled in the village of Kula in Bačka (modern Serbia), as attested by the 1746 census.
During the following years, process of Rusyn colonization was intensified, and on 17 January 1751, regional administrator of Bačka, Franz Joseph von Redl signed an agreement with Mihajlo Munkači from the village of Červenovo, in the county of Bereg, allowing the arrival of 200 Rusyn families from the north-eastern Hungarian region known as the "Upper-Land" (Rusyn: Горнїца) to the village of Krstur (Rusyn: Керестур) in Bačka. The same administrator signed another agreement on 15 May 1763 with Petro Kiš from Kerestur, allowing the arrival of 150 Rusyn families from the "Upper-Land" to the village of Kucura (Rusyn: Коцур) in Bačka. Both agreements, from 1751 and 1763, contained special clauses, requiring that Rusyn colonists in terms of their religious affiliation have to be Eastern Catholics.
As the population grew and arable land given to settlers by contract was limited, many families from Kerestur and Kocur decided to migrate to the town of Novi Sad in 1766 and 1767. Later, Rusyns settled in Šid and Vajska, and in the early 19th century in Vukovar and Ilok, now in modern-day Croatia. In Petrovci, also Croatia, Rusyns started settlement in 1833, and later in Bačinci in 1834.
The census from 1767 for the whole Bač-Bodroš county (which then was part of Habsburg Monarchy and today comprises Bačka region in Serbia and Hungary) shows about 2.000 Rusyns. The census from 1991 in the same area shows about 25.000 Rusyns. Currently, the number of Panonian Rusyns declines and is estimated to be about 15.000. The main reason for this is the increased number of Rusyns who decided to move to Canada.
In former Yugoslavia, Rusyns were recognized as a distinctive national minority, and their legal status was regulated in Yugoslav federal units of Serbia and Croatia. In the Constitution of Serbia, that was adopted on 9 April 1963, Rusyns were designated as one of seven (explicitly named) national minorities (Article 82), and the same provision was implemented in the Statute of Vojvodina (an autonomous province in Serbia) that was adopted in the same year (Articles 32-37). Further on, the Constitutional Law of 21 February 1969 regulated the position of Rusyn language as one of five official languages in Vojvodina (Article 67).
In spite of the fact that constitutional and legal recognition of Rusyn minority and its language in Vojvodina (Serbia) was achieved already in 1963/1969, some authors have overlooked those developments, and also claimed (persistently, in several works) that such recognition occurred later, in 1974, thus revealing the lack of basic knowledge on the evolution of Rusyn rights in former Yugoslavia.
During that period, Rusyn minority was also recognized in the Yugoslav federal unit of Croatia, by the Constitutional Amendment IV, that was adopted in 1972. That provision was confirmed by the new Constitution of Croatia, adopted in 1974 (Article 137), that recognized not only local Rusyns but also local Ukrainians, thus designating them as separate and distinctive national minorities.
After the breakup of Yugoslavia (1991-1992), its successor states continued to recognize Rusyns as a distinctive national minority. In Croatia, they are officially recognized (under constitutional provisions from 1997) as an autochthonous national minority and as such, they elect a special representative to the Croatian Parliament, shared with members of eleven other national minorities. In Serbia, recognition of Rusyn minority and its language was confirmed by the statutes of Vojvodina (2009, 2014). Since 2002, Rusyns in Serbia have their National Council, headquartered in Ruski Krstur (the largest Rusyn settlement in Serbia), and in 2008, the Institute for Culture of Rusyns in Vojvodina was established in Novi Sad.
Rusyns in Pannonia mostly live in the autonomous province of Vojvodina in Serbia. There are 14,246 declared ethnic Rusyns in Serbia (2011 census). The village of Ruski Krstur in the Kula municipality is the cultural centre of the Pannonian Rusyns. There is a considerable concentration of Rusyns in Novi Sad, where in 1820 the construction of St. Peter and Paul Greek Catholic parish church started and was subsequently completed in 1834/1837. Other villages with a Rusyn majority include Kucura in the Vrbas municipality, and Bikić Do in the Šid municipality. There are Pannonian Rusyn communities in Slavonia (Croatia), forming a majority in the village of Petrovci, Bogdanovci municipality, in Vukovar-Srijem county.
- Serbia, Vojvodina
- Petrovci, Croatia (57,17%, 1991)
Pannonian Rusyns consider their linguistic variety, known as Pannonian Rusyn, to be one of four standardized versions of the Rusyn language, while some linguists also classify it as a microlanguage. They are using a standardized version of Rusyn Cyrillic alphabet.
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