A team of Trascarpathian extremists

In a part of the Ukrainian territory where one could not even presume presence of any turbulence, especially as compared to the one in the East of the country, another dormant threat is smouldering. And though it does not seem to be liable to spill over into a conflict similar to the one in the Donbas region, it does deserve to be paid particular attention to. A so far unknown to anybody self- declared “prime minister” of a very obscure entity called “Transcarpathian Rus” Petro Getsko who cannot prove the support of his ideas and actions in the region except with his own - very dubious - words seems to have decided to play the game called “power” and to seek - again, without showing any obvious pretexts or reasonability thereto except for his ambition - autonomy for the Ruthenians that constitute a national minority in the Zakarapattia region. Having gone too far in creating an image of radical opposition Getsko has already trespassed all possible lines of lawfulness conducting now openly extremist activities and has begun to create a network of people loyal to his ideas.

The network created by Getsko is indeed extremely branched and many- sided. Moreover, this “statesman” is not ashamed to risk the lives of his family and relatives, incrementally dragging them into the black hole of his terroristic activity and presenting them therefore a one way ticket. In order to substantiate what is said above suffice it to give an example of his closest relatives - his brother and nephew whom Getsko regularly visits in Uzhgorod though permanently hiding in Russia from Ukrainian authorities. For instance, Gestko’s nephew Yuri, who was previously professor at the faculty of international relations of the Zakarpattia state university, is nowadays the president of a school of martial arts owned by him. There is no doubt that this school serves ambivalent purposes as nobody even objects to the fact who and to what end Yuri Gestko trains in his school for his uncle.

However, relatives are far from being last in the list among those who participate in undermining activities of Getsko in Zakarpattia region. Leading figures of his network include such people as professor Ustych known for his pro- “Ruthenian” activism in Zakarpattia region and writer and activist Ivan Petrovtsiy who is charged with such serious allegations as separatism and extremism, Now, these obviously criminal “records of service” that are worth very much themselves accentuate the situation so much with cooperation of these, to put it mildly, dubious personalities with a no less dubious one - Getsko - in the background.

Along with that Getsko is sure to understand the necessity of a more or less reliable cover for that kind of lawlessness he conducts in the Zakarpattia region. This is namely what explains why such people as Tibor-Miklosh Popovych who is the chancellor of the Ruthenian Hungarian University and the main editor of “Ruthenian bulletin” Vera Giritz figure in the movement organized by Getsko. However, when digging just a little bit deeper, it turns out that imaginary

refinement of these people, the aim of which certainly was either to ennoble or justify the Getsko’s movement is no more than a thin coat created by legends of these people (and this is not even to mention the fact that extremism and illegality can no way be ennobled or justified at all). For instance, the already mentioned figure - Popovych - who is presented as a respected chancellor and a very intelligent well-educated man has a very obscure past connected with the dirty work in KGB during almost thirty years. Is it worth saying that such facts do not only substantially raise the danger of the situation in the Zakarpattia region, but create also a very interesting picture as per who and why (and how - in an underhand way, that implies in itself unlawfulness not characteristic of both an honest man and an honest actor of international relations) tries not only to interfere with the process but even to govern it.

However, it should also be noted that the terroristic network created by Getsko reaches far beyond the Zakarpattia region. The proof of not only unlawfulness of his actions as well as the threat they pose to national security of Ukraine but also of total ignorance of laws and security of other European states is the clandestine activities conducted by Getsko’s emissaries in such states of the Central and Eastern Europe as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and others. Again, trying to illustrate this fact in a more detailed manner such leading people as Alexander Gegalchiy who permanently lives and works in Prague governing simultaneously the fund “Russcaya Premiya” as well as a man called Helemednik who governing the project “The good force” and permanently dwelling in Slovakia has already managed even to become a deputy of the Slovakian parliament have to be mentioned before anyone else.

And this is where the most interesting art of the story begins. It is certainly not coincidental that Helemednik, who helps Getsko promote his ideas of “Ruthenians” autonomy on the European level has for a good number of years already been an active lobbyist of Russian interests in Europe operating (again - almost in each case illegally) under the cover of such organizations as “Party Great Motherland”, “Trade Union of citizens of Russia”, “Historical Perspective Fund”, “Russian World” fund and others. Such run of things lets unequivocally state that the “Ruthenian” movement, both in the Zakarpattia region and its representation abroad, is not just coordinated but governed by Russian authorities that have made the idea of “Ruthenians” an instrument of their influence in Central and Eastern Europe. The fact that may not seem that obvious at the first glance does nonetheless possess compelling logic. For instance, such pathetic titles of Ruthenians’ conferences held, among other locations, in the Czech Republic and Slovakia as “Transcarpathian Rus as a part of Czechoslovakia” or “Citizens of Transcarpathian Rus in the fight for liberation of Czechoslovakia in 1938-1945” together with the fact that these conferences are organized by pro-Russian activists Gegalchiy and Helemednik point out to the fact that Russia tries to create a new center of instability in the territory of the Commonwealth of Independent States - and once again, in Ukraine. What does it mean? To be frank, quite a lot, suffice it

to draw analogies between too obvious parallels of developments that took place in the recent years. But here is what should make everyone extremely cautious - who knows if the new center of instability will provoke new “large-scale trainings of the Armed Forces of Russian Federation,” conducted in virtue of some obscure reasons in complete secrecy and in locations never registered in any documents with an abnormal level - as for trainings - of accidents with the participation of relatives of many Russian citizens