Russian language in Latvia

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Percent of Russian speakers in different regions of Latvia, 2011 census

The Russian language in Latvia is the second most commonly used language at home (37.2% in the 2011 census[1]) and 27.0% of the population are ethnic Russians.[2]

History and distribution[edit]

Russian Theatre in Riga (building of the former Russian trading company "Ulyey")[3])

Around 1000 AD in present-day Latvia there was a significant influence of Kievan Rus'. Accordding to point of view of Russian scholars many Latvian words date back to this period:[4] in particular, the word krievi (Russian) is derived from the ancient Krivichs tribe. In the 9th century, the left bank of the Dvina was under the influence of Kievan Rus', and later the right bank of the Dvina was under the loose authority of the Principality of Polotsk.[5] There were castles under the loose sovereignty of Principality of Polotsk, Koknese and Jersika, which according to the chronicler Henry of Latvia, were the oldest in Livonia.[5] Up until the 13th century Latgale was under the influence of Pskov, and the mainstay of Pskov city was Tālava, the center of the eponymous principality.[5][6] Before WWII the proportion of non-Latvians was approximately 25%, the Russians being the largest minority with 10.6%,[7] amount of Russians increased sharply after Soviet occupation, reaching 34% in 1989 and new, previously unknown groups as Russian speaking Ukrainians (3.5%) were introduced.[8]


  1. ^ 2011.gada tautas skaitīšanas galīgie rezultāti (sk. tabulu TSG11-08) NB Доля подсчитана от респондентов, давших ответ
  2. ^ 2011.gada tautas skaitīšanas galīgie rezultāti (sk. tabulu TSG11-06)NB Доля подсчитана от респондентов, давших ответ
  3. ^ Язев О. Второй городской театр; Захарьят Н. Лучший среди русских в Европе «Суббота» № 31 (2010); Рижский русский театр им. Михаила Чехова
  4. ^ Инфантьев Б. Ф. Русичи на земле Балтии «Klio» № 5-10, 12
  5. ^ a b c Кто в Прибалтике коренной
  6. ^ Гурин А. Загадка талавского трубача «Ракурс», № 22 (213), 02.06.2007.
  7. ^ "Ethnicities in region of Latvia. Statistics". Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  8. ^ "Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 года. Национальный состав населения по республикам СССР" (in Russian). Retrieved 2010-01-02.