President Zeman dismisses claim he voiced support for Ruthenian independence

President Miloš Zeman has dismissed claims that, during a meeting with representatives of Ukraine’s Ruthenian community in Prague last week, he had supported their demand for independence.

Mr. Zeman said such claims, made by some Ruthenian activists, were utter nonsense, and that he had merely expressed the view that decentralization might help alleviate tension in the Transcarpathian region.

He said he meets with Ruthenian representatives because they were part of Czechoslovakia’s history.

The Czech Republic’s ambassador to Ukraine, Radek Matula, was summoned to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry over the matter.

According to official data there are approximately 10,000 Ruthenians living in this region of Ukraine, but its members, who do not have the status of a minority, say the figures are underrated.

Ukraine considers Ruthenians a pro-Russian colony which threatens the integrity of the country.