The August 15 appointment of Marija Pauk as head of the II. Ferenc Rákóczi Hungarian Language High School in Mukachevo (Munkács) has elicited strong disapproval on the part of the Hungarian minority community in Ukraine. The statement issued by the Cultural Alliance of Hungarians in Sub-Carpathia’s (KMKSZ) – which represents the interests of the 150,000-strong minority – rejects the City Council’s “unilateral decision to appoint a principal with no affiliation to the school or community, and without consulting the collective, parents or civic organizations.” The manner of this appointment “questions the city administration’s intentions regarding the preservation of Hungarian-language education at the secondary school,” notes the statement. Pauk, who was formerly at the helm of a kindergarten in the city, replaces István Schink, the ethnic Hungarian principal who was summarily fired from his post, twice earlier this year. The well-respected Schink served as the head of the institution with distinction for 17 years. As HHRF previously reported, after his first January 17 dismissal, the Mukachevo City District Court ruled the move unlawful and reinstated him with immediate effect. Then, on May 8, he was fired for the second time, again without cause.
The city’s decision comes in the midst of Schink’s ongoing lawsuit with an appeal hearing scheduled for September.
Other official action in the Mukachevo region negatively impacting the community was removing Hungarian symbols, inscriptions and heads of institutions in January 2023, and the Hungarian symbol, the Turul statue, from the obelisk of Mukachevo Castle in October 2022.
Photo: II. Ferenc Rákóczi Hungarian Language High School in Mukachevo
Photo source: István Mirkó