Ethnicity Studies 2007/2

Russians of the Region of Baltic States: Minority and State

Natalija Kasatkina Russians in Contemporary Lithuanian Society: Minority, Diaspora or Part of Civil Society?

This article analyses the strategies of adaptation of Lithuanian ethnic groups, focussing on Russians. Social adaptation is perceived as the consistency of individual expectations and abilities with society’s expectations and demands. Aiming to evaluate the coherence between cultural identity and social adaptation, the author invokes the conception of Berry’s acculturation theory, thereby indicating that the type of adaptation is more than a strategy of individual behaviour. The author estimates the results of adaptation such as assimilation, integration, separatism and marginalization by answering certain questions. Is the desired effect obtained? Does it give satisfaction? How is ethnic identity changing?

The author distinguishes and defines the characteristics of ethnic groups and the main types of social organisation and intercommunication of minority and majority groups. Ethnic groups (excluding the majority) can express themselves as minorities, diasporas or citizens. Such groups become minorities when inequalities occur compared to other ethnic groups or when they become an object of discrimination without the ability to fend off the situation. Despite formal criteria of equality, a subjective sense of being a minority and the perception of the situation play a significant role. This sense is influenced by formal rights, the collective experience of a particular group, direct and symbolic interaction with members of the majority and the majority’s attitudes (stereotypes) towards minorities. Real or perceived inequality can create or generate the identity of minority groups. As individuals of ethnic minorities realise the affinity of their subordinated position and aim to preserve ethno-cultural identity, a diaspora may occur. Individual adaptation in diasporas is associated with the ability to sustain one’s identity. The factor of survival is influenced by strong feeling of solidarity in substantial internal organisation. Collective feeling and solidarity of community became the main condition of survival in a strange environment and an important suggestion of professional success. In post-industrial societies, the role of diasporas has declined. Still, in “new diasporas” (which are developing), features of “classic diasporas” emerge. Finally, third option is a community consisting of citizens and giving minorities the opportunity to express themselves as “integrated minorities”.

Article in Russian

Vladislav Volkov, Olga Peipina Ethnic Behaviour of Latvia’s Russians: Peculiarities of Structuration

This article analyses the structuration of the behaviour strategy of the Russian minority in Latvia as a result of different social factors: demography, migration, and quality of life. The importance of this research is connected with the following: 1. Is ethnicity a decisive factor of social stratification in Latvia or is it only a cultural and psychological phenomenon; 2. Is the collective identity of the Russian minority a result of historical factors or is it connected to the structuration of the modern behaviour strategy in Latvia? The methodological foundation of this paper is the sociological theories of Giddens, Parsons, Dahrendorf, Deutsch, Horowitz, and Rothschild. The article includes the following parts: 1. Latvian political discourse regarding the Russian ethnic minority in Latvia; 2. Latvian ethnic studies regarding the structuration of the behaviour of Russians in Latvia; 3. The influence of the standard of living on the structuration of the behaviour of ethnic Russians in Latvia.

Article in Russian

Sirkka Laihiala-Kankainen, Tatjana Rynkänen Russian-Speakers in Finland: Past, Present, Future

Until quite recently, the Russian-speaking population in Finland has been regarded as an “ignored” or “hidden” minority that began to attract public attention only at the beginning of the 1990s when the number of Russian speakers in the country began to rapidly increase. At the moment, they constitute the largest group of immigrants in Finland (more than 39,000) and their number continues to increase. The number of speakers of Russian in Finland is, however, very small compared with, for example, the Baltic countries, for their proportion of the entire population is only 0.75 percent. They do not have an officially acknowledged status as a language minority either. In Finland, speakers of Russian are a fairly heterogeneous group: some of them have lived in the country for several generations and integrated into the Finnish society whereas the majority of them are more recent immigrants and still in search of their own place. In this article, we will discuss the historical background of the immigration of the Russian-speaking population and its consequences for their integration into Finnish society. Based on the most recent findings on the status of Russian-speaking immigrants, we will survey the present situation with a particular focus on the opportunities for Russian speakers to participate in the building of a civil society. Although the interests and backgrounds of immigrants from different eras and with different reasons for moving vary a lot, the Russian language and culture remain unifying factors. It can be said that the Russian language has an important role in Finland today, especially in the areas with large Russian-speaking populations.

Article in Russian

Monika Frėjutė-Rakauskienė Main Social Characteristics of Non-governmental Organizations of Lithuania’s Russians

This article deals with non-governmental organizations of ethnic Russians in Lithuania and their activity. The pilot research of non-governmental organizations of Russians in Lithuania, which seeks to reveal the extent and form of the consolidation of the Russian ethnic group, is presented in the article. The article tries to answer the main questions of the research: What role do NGOs of the Russians play in Lithuanian civil society? Is the Russian ethnic group in Lithuania a segregated segment or an integrated group in society? What are the main social requirements of the Russians according to the activities of their NGOs? What are the main social characteristics of the NGOs’ participants and what role do they play in the formation of the consolidation strategies used by the Russian community (diaspora or ethnic minority).

After analysing the data of the research, the main features of Russians in Lithuania consolidation strategies (diaspora and ethnic minority) were revealed. The main features of diaspora consolidation strategy are the fragmentation of organizations and their dependence on the government (financial subsidies provided by the Department of National Minorities and Lithuanians Living Abroad under the Government of the Republic of Lithuania). The main features of the diaspora consolidation strategy are the mutual cooperation of Russian NGOs in Lithuania, their collaboration in projects with other Russian NGOs in Lithuania and abroad, and their search for financial subsidies and political support from the Russian Federation (their historical motherland).

Article in Russian

Birutė Sinočkina Russian Press in Post-Soviet Lithuania: Dynamics of Change

The aim of this article is to follow the principle trends of the changes noticeable in the Russian press published in independent Lithuania and to elucidate the causes of those changes. The choice of the aforementioned segment of the media has been conditioned by the growing importance of the research carried out by the relevant social institutions, taking care of the needs of the ethnic and language minorities in modern Europe. In the years that followed the restoration of the Lithuanian state, a great number of mass media periodicals arose and disappeared. The very peak of Russian publications in Lithuania came in 1995. The remaining publications have suffered considerable changes and transformations. The relative scarcity of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in Lithuania and their diverse lifestyles have contributed to the present situation in which among the publications of general content only those whose production is the cheapest remain. The translated daily Respublika (the Republic), and two weekly digests should be mentioned. They are Litovskij Kurjer (the Lithuanian Messenger) and Obzor (the Review).

An analysis of the circulation, readership ratings, and content of the aforementioned publications has shown that all of them have discovered their own readers, although the digests direct their attention more towards the interests of the ethnic Russians of Lithuania than the translated daily paper. The integration of the ethnic minority can be illustrated by the fact that more and more original and republished (translated) material about Lithuania gets printed in both the weeklies. The material bearing Lithuanian content seems to have contributed towards the narrowing of the number of republications coming from the Russian papers in the weeklies mentioned above. The differences between the contents of the two weeklies can be explained by the peculiarities of the specific readership. The readers of the Litovskij Kurjer seem to belong to a younger, richer, socially integrated group of inhabitants of Lithuania.

A periodical that might address the needs of the ethnic Russian population in Lithuania by reflecting their problems, helping them overcome erroneous stereotypes, and contributing towards the harmonization of interethnic relationships and that might lead the ethnic Russian population towards the goal of a democratic civil society is likely to appear only when the need for such publications is perceived and expressed by the society itself.

Article in Russian

Sari Pietikäinen, Sirkka Laihiala-Kankainen, Tatjana Rynkänen Minority Media in Civil Society – Experiences of the Russian-Speaking Community in Finland

Minority media gives many opportunities to explore multicultural, multilingual and trans-national changes in the media landscape and in the wider socio-political context as well. Often minority media aim at providing not only relevant information, but also alternative representations and empowering possibilities to participate in discussions of identity, language and culture in the minority group. Through an analysis of interviews of members of the Russian-speaking minority in Finland, e.g. journalists working in Russian-language media, key people in Russian communities and Russian-speaking immigrants, this article examines the role and significance of Russian-language media in the context of multicultural Finland. We suggest that Russian-language media in Finland have important, interrelated tasks: to provide its audience alternative representations, to facilitate in constructing and maintaining a sense of belonging to the heterogeneous Russian-speaking community in Finland, and, finally, to contribute to language maintenance. Minority language media can also function as an empowering resource for participating in civil society.

Article in Russian

Ekaterina Protassova Overcoming the Stereotypes: an Overview of Finland’s Russian Press

Over the past few decades, several million people speaking Russian as their mother tongue have immigrated to Europe from the former Soviet Union, and this number is growing all the time. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, they are not dissidents anymore and keep close contact with their countries of origin. The Russian emigration to Finland has experienced many waves for centuries, and Finnish people, as well as Finno-Ugric tribes, have been living in the territory of modern Russia. National stereotypes are rooted in historical events and real experiences, and they must be revealed and reformulated under transformed circumstances. In the immigrant situation, the newspapers published in the Russian language in Finland allow the Russian-speaking linguistic minority in Finland to overcome traditional prejudices. Many articles reflect new and old values and elaborate identities which are syntheses of Russian and Finnish views. The study of self-reflection and identity has developed into one of the most dynamic interfaces linking linguistics with anthropology, sociology and psychology. The specific changes in one’s representation of reality due to the historic and cultural influence of the environment are focused on through analysis of texts dealing with typical views and behaviour of Russians and Finns in Russia and Finland and outside their respective countries.

Article in Russian

Grigorijus Potašenko Tradition of Research of Old Believers of Lithuania: From Demography to a History of Confession and Sociolinguistics

This article aims to reveal the basic directions of research of Lithuanian Old Believers’ historical and cultural heritage as well as to assess the scope of this research. It is possible to allocate four stages of study of the history of the Old Believers of Lithuania: 1) the second quarter of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century; 2) 1920–1930; 3) the Soviet period; 4) the period after 1990. In the 1920s and 1930s, substantial research of the history of local conservatives was not carried out. In some studies of the Soviet period, the approach to the Old Beliefs was the same as that to a cultural phenomenon (but not a religious society). After the 1950s, explorations on dialects and folklore of Old Believers of Lithuania began. After 1990, it was possible to observe some revival in folklore, history, sociolinguistics, and some other research of the Old Believers of Lithuania. Novikov, a folklore specialist, is productive in the field of studying the Old Believers of Lithuania. The studies of history of the Old Belief in Lithuania have recently taken on a new and dynamic direction. Attention has recently been paid to publishing historical texts that bear cultural value. The most important result of historical research of the previous decade is Baranovsky and Potašenko’s book Old Belief of the Baltics and Poland: the Brief Historical and Biographic Dictionary. One more direction of study is the dialectological and sociolinguistic research of the dialects of Old Believers of Lithuania (Èekmonas, Morozova). Social science experts have not carried out special research on the Old Belief in Lithuania. Still, various, fragmented data exists. Taking into account scientific promotion in the specified directions, the lack of more serious research into art and modern religion in Lithuanian contemporary historiography is obvious.

Article in Russian

Andrius Marcinkevičius Some Aspects of the Social Situation of the Russian Minority in the Republic of Lithuania (1918–1940)

This article aims to present the main problems of social development of the Russian ethnic minority in Lithuania (1918–1940). The relevance of such an intention is based on the assumption that most publications that have been published since the re-establishment of the Lithuanian state in 1990 analyses the social role of the Russian elite (intelligentsia) during the interwar period, but does not include other segments of the Russian minority. Consequently, the author interpreted the Russian community in Lithuania (1918–1940) as a construct consisting of various social segments. Furthermore, the article also analyses factors that have significantly influenced the integration of Russians into the context of Lithuanian society. It is concluded that the public situation and social status of the Russian minority after the First World War depended on changes that were not actually as thoroughgoing for other ethnic groups. The success/failure of social integration of the Russian minority was largely caused by such factors as professional skills, education, and level of hardship. The second part of this article assesses the peculiarities of Russian political consolidation during the elections of the parliament (Seimas) of the Republic of Lithuania in 1922, 1923 and 1926. While these political events were taking place, the idea of political solidarity within the Russian minority was largely discredited. This happened for two main reasons: the lack of political and civic values among Russian politicians and political inertness of Russian voters.

Article in Russian