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Presov Region

Presov Region — name for Rusyn-inhabited territory in present-day eastern Slovakia. It refers to approximately 300 villages, at least 50 percent of whose inhabitants were Rusyns at the outset of the twentieth century (ca. 1910). The Presov Region is bordered on the east by *Subcarpathian Rus’ (present-day Ukraine’s Transcarpathia) and stretches westward to the village of Osturna at the foot of the Tatra Mountains in north-central Slovakia. This territory basically falls within the jurisdiction of the *Greek Catholic Eparchy of Presov (est. 1816), which in terms of historic Hungarian counties included the northern portions of *Spish (Hungarian: Szepes), Sharysh (Saros), and Zemplyn (Zemplin), as well as western Uzh (Ung). The region’s name is derived from the city of Presov, which since the early nineteenth century has been the seat of the Greek Catholic eparchy and the cultural center of Rusyns living in this part of *Carpathian Rus’. Presov itself, however, is not within Rusyn ethnolinguistic territory.

The concept of a “Presov Region” is of recent origin and the term began to be used only after World War I, when Rusyns living south of the Carpathians were divided by an administrative boundary, first that of *Rus’ka Kraina under the short-lived Hungarian Republic (1918-1919), then that between the Czechoslovak provinces of Subcarpathian Rus’ and Slovakia (1919-1938). To distinguish the Rusyns under a Slovak administration from those in the theoretically self-governing Subcarpathian Rus’, the term Presov Region (Rusyn: Preshovska Rus’/Priashivska Rus’; Russian: Priashevshchina/Priashevskaia Rus’; Ukrainian: Priashivshchyna) began to be used in the early 1920s by Rusyn civic and cultural activists. Although it was never an official term designating a specific territorial entity, after World War II Presov Region (in the forms Priashevshchina and Priashivshchyna) was used as the name both of the newly established *Ukrainian National Council (1945-1949) and its newspaper, *Priashevshchina, some of whose supporters called for Rusyn territorial autonomy within Slovakia. Both Slovak Communist and non-Communist political and cultural activists were opposed to the term Presov Region (there is no equivalent in the Slovak language), since it implies that there is a solidly inhabited region within “Slovak” territory within which Rusyns are a clear majority rather than a national minority. Rusyn-oriented publications, including this encyclopedia, use the term Presov Region to refer to all villages within the present-day boundaries of Slovakia that at one time had a population of 50 percent or more Rusyns (see Maps 3 and 6).

Bibliography: Ivan Vanat, “Do pytannia vzhyvannia terminiv ‘Zakarpattia’ ta ‘Priashivshchyna’,” in Mykhailo Rychalka, ed., Zhovten’ i ukrains’ka kul’tura (Presov, 1968), pp. 602-603; Paul Robert Magocsi, “Mapping Stateless Peoples: The East Slavs of the Carpathians,” Canadian Slavonic Papers, XXXIX, 3-4 (Edmonton, 1997), pp. 301-331.

Paul Robert Magocsi

Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.
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