HISTORICAL AND ETHNIC BACKGROUND
The region of Kárpátalja (Subcarpathia) is situated in the Northeastern Carpathian Mountains, and had been a part of Hungary for over 1000 years when it was occupied and annexed by the Czechs after the First World War (1918), and then by the Soviet Union after the Second World War (1945). Since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Subcarpathia is now the Westernmost part of an independent Ukraine.
The territory of present-day Ukraine and Southern Russia has been inhabited by Turanian peoples since approximately 3000 BC, when settlers from the Carpathian Basin and the Balkans first brought agriculture to this region, creating the so-called "Cucuteni-Tripolye" culture to the East of the Carpathians in what is now Moldavia and Western Ukraine. These Carpathian and Balkan settlers were themselves of Near Eastern Sumerian-related origin. Around the same time, other Sumerian-related turanids reached what is now Southern Russia through the Caucasus, creating the Kuban culture North of the Caucasus and East of the Black Sea. Around 2500 BC, the Cucuteni-Tripolye and Kuban cultures merged in what is now Eastern Ukraine to create the Kurgan culture. These Sumerian-related cultures gave rise to the Scythian and Sarmatian peoples which dominated Eastern Europe and the Carpathian Basin during the first millennium BC.
A new wave of Turanian peoples arrived from the East when the Huns crossed the Volga river (original Turanian name of the Volga: Itil, or Idel) in the 4th c. AD, and by the 5th c., the Carpathian-Danubian Basin, as well as the regions North and East of the Black Sea became part of the Hun Empire. In the following centuries, these regions were dominated by various Hunnic tribal federations: the Avars, Bulgars, Khazars, Magyars, Petchenegs, and Kumans. At that time, the Slavic tribes inhabited the forested regions of Northeastern Europe, and as they came in contact with the Turanian peoples to the South, the Slavs not only acquired much of their culture from the Turanians, but, as in the case of the Russian and Ukrainian ethnic groups, they also intermingled to a considerable extent with the Turanians. Thus, today's Slavic peoples are effectively an amalgamation of Turanian (including Ural-Altaic) and Slavic elements.
During the 9th c. AD, the territory of present-day Ukraine was inhabited by the Magyars, who also founded the city of Keve, which is now Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. In 895 AD, the Magyars moved into the Carpathian Basin and founded the Hungarian state. In the 13th c., a few small Slavic tribes crossed the Carpathians from the East and settled in Subcarpathia to seek refuge from the Mongols, and they became known as the Ruthenes. They had lived peacefully with the Hungarians during centuries when the Kingdom of Hungary was dismembered by the Western Allied Powers at the Treaty of Trianon, on June 4th, 1920. Subcarpathia was then given to the newly created state of Czechoslovakia.
In 1939, following the breakup of Czechoslovakia, Subcarpathia was rejoined to Hungary. On June 26th, 1941, bombs were dropped on the Northeastern Hungarian town of Kassa and on neighbouring Subcarpathian towns in what appeared to be a Soviet air raid. As a result of this unprovoked attack, Hungary declared itself in a state of war with the Soviet Union, in accordance with international law. Hungary had many reasons to consider Russia as a threat, due to the fact that Russia had been an expansionist imperialist power for centuries, and a militant promoter of Panslavism, and later, of Communism. Panslavist ideology sought to unite all Slavs under Russia, and given Hungary's geographic location between the Western, Eastern, and Southern Slavs, Hungary was seen as an obstacle and enemy target by Panslavism. In 1849, Russia intervened militarily against the Hungarians who were fighting to liberate themselves from the foreign oppression of the Austrian Habsburgs. Prior to and during the First World War, Russia also supported Serbian territorial claims and terrorist actions against Austria-Hungary. After the Communist Revolution of 1917, Soviet Communist ideology sought to export Communism to other countries. In 1919, just two years after the Communist Revolution in Russia, a Soviet-backed coup installed a communist dictatorship in Hungary. This communist dictatorship was short-lived, but committed numerous atrocities against the Hungarian population and led to the national catastrophy of Hungary's territorial dismemberment at the Treaty of Trianon. Under these circumstances, Hungary's military retaliation against Russia in 1941 was legitimate. However, in 1944, the Soviet Union invaded Hungary, and in 1945, it annexed Subcarpathia. Under the Soviet occupation, atrocities and deportations to forced labor camps were inflicted upon the Subcarpathian Hungarian population, the full extent of which has yet to be revealed. The Hungarians and Ruthenians of Subcarpathia have suffered much under Communism and are still suffering from the intolerant Ukrainian nationalism. As a result, many of the Ruthenians have lost their ethnic identity and have been assimilated by the Ukrainians.