31 years ago, they leveled the village of Ruské: From my house, only a bench is left

It remains forever in their hearts. The picturesque village fell together with six other municipalities, victims of the construction of the Starina reservoir (Snina district).

Maria Silvestri
3 min readSep 6, 2016

Originally published 5 Sept 2016 — NOVÝ ČAS

Juraj Koco (60) is still aggrieved by the atrocities that the communists inflicted on the natives of Ruské. “It’s a tragedy!” he says. Source: ee

Those who remember still cherish precious photos of streets with masonry houses, as well as images of destruction and the end of life in Ruské. They are still aggrieved in their hearts, that they were moved away after years of building a home. Their village was located 15 kilometers from the water!

The village Ruské looked like this in its heyday. Source: anc

Natives can go to the Ruske territory only on special passes. They still claim that there are still some owners of many lots of land. “Our ancestors lived in Ruské for many generations. World War I stopped here. During World War II, the Carpathian-Dukla Operation dragged on, and the village was bombed and burned. People built new homes on top of them. Villagers here have survived the war, the Communists finally evicted them,” says Ruske native Juraj Koco (60). According to him, they all understand the importance of drinking water. Why, however, they had to be evicted from a village 15 km away from the reservoir - they can’t get that into their heads.

In 1985, bulldozers came to Ruské and razed 180 houses to the ground. Everyone took what they could, we loaded cars, wagons, trucks. We lost cows, horses, entire farms. Suddenly, we became homeless…” Koco says sadly. Whoever refused to leave received eviction orders, and their electricity was turned off. Later they even stopped traffic to the valley. After filling the reservoir, people realized that only one village, Starina, was flooded. However, to protect the source of drinking water, Zvala, Smolník, Dara, Ostružnica and Veľká Poľana were destroyed, in addition to Ruské. Villagers feel deceived.

180 homes fell victim to the reservoir. Source: anc

To us, it is a tragedy; an atrocity happened here. No one told us the truth. They didn’t have to destroy our Ruské!” Koco, who returns to his family home, is convinced. On the site of his birthplace, only a bench now stands. A towering linden tree, which the family planted after the house was demolished, grows as a memento. Witnesses will never forget their land. Every year, they remember it with nostalgia at gatherings of natives.

Starina Reservoir. Source: ee

Translated by Maria Silvestri.



Maria Silvestri

IT>EN and SK>EN translator, President of the John and Helen Timo Foundation. Based in Pittsburgh.