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Lemko Republic of Florynka/Ruska narodna respublika Lemkiv

Lemko Republic of Florynka/Ruska narodna respublika Lemkiv — self-governing entity formed in the Lemko Region following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. On December 5, 1918, a congress of 500 delegates representing 130 Lemko villages met in Florynka. The congress established an Executive Council of the Lemko Region/Nachal’nyi soviet Lemkovshchyny under the chairmanship of the Greek Catholic priest Mykhail Iurchakevych. The Executive Council in turn set up a self-governing administrative structure that included district-level councils, a police force, and courts. The Executive Council’s main goal was to unite Carpatho-Rusyns on both sides of the mountains into a single state, *Carpathian Rus’. Since most of its members were of *Russophile national orientation, initially they hoped to unite Carpathian Rus’ with a democratic Russia, but it quickly became clear that this was not possible. The council then adopted a pro-Czechoslovak orientation and before the end of December sent a delegation to Prague to request unification with that new country. Lemko delegates were also dispatched to Presov, where, on December 21, 1918, they joined with local Rusyns to form a Carpatho-Rusyn National Council.

For its part, the Polish government sent troops to take control of the *Lemko Region and in February 1919 arrested the “republic’s” leaders. Toward the end of that year the Executive Council managed to renew its existence, with the express purpose of blocking the mobilization of *Lemkos into the Polish army. It sent a delegation to Warsaw and received promises from the government that mobilization would cease, although in fact it continued. Disturbed by Poland’s intransigeance, Lemko leaders responded by convening in Florynka on March 20, 1920, a Supreme Council of the Lemko Rus’ Region/Verkhovnyi soviet Lemkovskoi Rusi (26 members) and an Executive Committee/Ispol’nitel’nyi komitet (5 members) under the chairmanship of Iaroslav *Karchmarchyk that took on the characteristics of a Lemko government. That same month the Polish authorities responded by sending an armed force to implement mobilization. By the spring of 1920 all of the Lemko Region was firmly under Polish rule. One year later, in early 1921 the leading members of the “republic” (Iaroslav Kachmarchyk, Dymytrii *Khyliak, Nikolai *Hromosiak) were arrested and put on trial (June 6, 1921) for anti-Polish agitation. All were acquitted, since the court found they had acted in response to “the will of the people.”

During its more than two years of existence (December 1918—March 1920), the various organs of what later came to be known as the Lemko Rusyn Republic of Florynka succeeded for the first time in representing Lemko political interests before Poland and the international community. For Lemkos the Florynka republic remains a symbol of their struggle for national recognition and sense of unity with other Carpatho-Rusyns south of the mountains.

Bibliography: Bogdan Horbal, Dzialalnosc polityczna Lemkow na Lemkowszczyznie, 1918-1921 (Wroclaw, 1997); Paul Robert Magocsi, “The Lemko Rusyn Republic, 1918-1920 and Political Thought in Western Rus’-Ukraine,” in idem, Of the Making of Nationalities There is No End (New York, 1999), pp. 306-315.

Bogdan Horbal

Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.
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