Latgalian Russians : from autochthones to national minority

Keywords: Latgale, Russian minority, Russian Orthodox Old Believers, white émigré
Language: In Latvian

Latgalian Russians constitute an important part of Latvian Russian community, at the same time keeping their confessional and social cultural specifics that distinguishes this group historically in the territory of Eastern Latvia. During the first decade of Latvian state, perceptible discomfiture and incertitude spread among the Russian inhabitants, including Latgalian Russians considering its new political and social status in the independent Latvia. The Russian community did not have any common political platform, the diversity of ideological points predetermined experience of the Independence war, the propaganda of socialist ideas as well as anti-bolshevist pathos of the “white émigrés” and ideas of reconstruction of “old Russia” on the opposite.

Strong regional identity, typical for Latgalian Old Believers’ community, caused consolidation of this group not only in the Eastern Latvia, but also abroad. The Old  Believers community was forced to search for compromise between traditional restraint and distance to the secular authorities, and necessity to mark their presence in the public space. Old Believers aspired to fix their equal position among other groups of society. But can we extrapolate the model of Old Believers’ experience to the whole Russian community? And is it possible at all to reveal the collective identity of Latvian Russian? In search for answers on these questions, we should pay attention to the process of formatting of Latvian Russian minority. In the 1920s it was at the start position only.