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Did Russian Settlers In Latvia And Estonia Form A Non Soviet Identity During The Diaspora Of The Ussr?

1240 words - 5 pages

Throughout Eastern Europe, across the Caucasus and as far away as the old silk roads of Central Asia we still see the former Soviet republics struggling to establish themselves as part of the world community. The break up of the USSR left a trail of confusion and dismay as newly independent countries were forced to realise their own national identity. But this was not the only legacy of mother Russia. During the Soviet years millions of ethnic Russians settled in these areas. Independence bought a new freedom for natives of the CIS and eastern block states but for the Russian new comers it bought a struggle to gain citizenship in a new and unfamiliar place.The question over Russian settlers in the republics is no more prominent than in the Baltic States of Estonia and Latvia, not least because of the unusually high ratio of Russians speakers to the native populous. But have these immigrants become part of their respective homes' national identity or have they drifted away from their titular countrymen? The most objective answer to this can be found by observing the political movements of the Russians and the natives surrounding the period of struggle for independence and post Soviet rule.During the 1980s Latvia and Estonia's nod towards their independence into a popular political ideology for the native Baltic. This is where we see the first political cracks between the immigrants and the natives begin to appear. By the end of the 80s large and organised independence movements emerged from the native population (the popular fronts). It seems likely this is what caused Russian speaker's to begin questioning where their cultural alliances lay and for this many looked back to their mother land of Russia and the Soviet loyalist movements in Moscow to form the inter fronts. With one side supporting independence and the other continued Soviet rule. We can see a distinct polarisation between the immigrants and the natives.But what overrides this apparent segregation of Russians from Latvians and Estonians and vice versa is strong evidence to suggest that of the Russian speaking population in the Baltic the majority were enveloped by the inter fronts. Polls taken in Estonia at the time support this . Another convincing example of such solidarity between what were supposed to be vicious enemies, this time in Latvia, springs from the elections of March 1990. Results show that the majority of Russian speakers voted in favour of indigenous Latvians over Russian speakers as their town and provincial representatives. The resulting attacks by the soviet security forces in January 1991 in an attempt crack down on independence movements serves only to reinforce this line of argument. Eyewitness accounts report a significant number of immigrants were seen fighting along side the Latvians in the capital Riga. Not only this but the work of sociologists Hallick and Kirch demonstrates a similar pro independence sentiment in Estonia. Not only this but their work also...

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