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Litvin (Belarusian: літвін, ліцвін, litvin, litsvin; Lithuanian: litvinas; Russian: литвин, litvin, Ukrainian: литвин, lytvyn; Polish: Litwin) is a Slavic word for residents of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which began in Lithuania Proper in the 12th century.


Grand Duchy of Lithuania[edit]

The term "Litvin" was mostly used by East Slavs to refer to all inhabitants of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 16–18th centuries.[1][2]

Ethnic group in Ukraine[edit]

Litvins are a small ethnic group in the area of the mid-stream Desna River (northern Ukraine).[3] The ethnographic or cultural studies about Litvins are poorly noted and are traced to the beginning of the 18th century.[4] The poet-monk Klymentiy Zinoviyiv [uk] who published several cultural studies noted that Litvins, perhaps after an older pagan tradition, worked on Sundays and rested on Fridays.[4][5] More notes about Litvins were provided at the end of the 18th century by historians of the Russian Empire Afanasiy (Opanas) Shafonsky [uk] and Yakov Markovych [uk].[4] According to Markovych, Litvins are a regional group such as Gascoigne in France or Swabians in Germany.[4][6]

The name Litvin (Litvyak) owes its origin to political factors and is a demonym (politonym) referencing the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.[4] Litvins in the Chernihiv region (Chernihiv Oblast) call themselves Ruski, but not Moskals or Katsaps.[4] They consider the term Litvin to be derogatory.[4] According to the 2011 census, there were 22 Litvins in Ukraine.[7]

Modern usage in Belarus[edit]

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991,[8] the term "Litvin" has been adopted by some modern Belarusian nationalists to stress the Belarusian claim to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.[9] This is an alternative to the demonym "Belarusians" which is probably derived from White Rus´ and, therefore, implies that it is somehow less than the Great Russia and also is part of Russia.[9] Belarusian historians such as Mikola Yermalovich and Viktor Veras claim that the Grand Duchy was Belarusian and that modern Lithuanians are actually Samogitians who took the name "Lithuania" for themselves. As such, modern Belarusians are actually Lithuanians and modern Lithuanians are Samogitians. This theory is considered fringe and is not accepted by mainstream historians.[8][10] During the 2009 census, 66 people identified themselves as Litvins in Belarus.[11]

Popular culture[edit]

Belarusian folk band Stary Olsa usually sings ballads about Litvin and their historical past.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Litvinai". Visuotinė lietuvių enciklopedija (in Lithuanian). Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos centras. 13 November 2018.
  2. ^ Вячаслаў Насевіч. Літвіны Archived 2009-04-01 at the Wayback Machine // Вялікае княства Літоўскае: Энцыклапедыя. У 2 т. / рэд. Г. П. Пашкоў і інш.Т. 2: Кадэцкі корпус — Яцкевіч. — Мінск: Беларуская Энцыклапедыя, 2005. С. 206—208.
  3. ^ "Litvinai". Visuotinė lietuvių enciklopedija (in Lithuanian). Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos centras. 13 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Horlenko, Volodymyr Litvins of the Ukraine North are possibly a fragment of legendary tribe of Siverians (Литвини півночі України - ймовірний уламок племені літописних Сіверян). "Landmarks of Ukraine". 2001.
  5. ^ Artifacts of Ukrainian-Ruthenian language and literature / Shevchenko Scientific Society Archaeographic Commission. - Lviv, 1912. - Vol.7. - p.72. (Пам'ятки українсько-руської мови і літератури / Видає археографічна комісія НТШ. - Львів, 1912. - Т.VII. - С.72. )
  6. ^ Markovych, Ya. Notes about Malorossiya its residents and literary works. - In Saint Petersburg, 1798. (Маркович Я. Записки о Малороссии, ее жителях и произведениях. - В Санкт-Петербурге, 1798.)
  7. ^ "Всеукраїнський перепис населення 2001 | Результати | Національний склад населення, мовні ознаки, громадянство | Чисельність осіб окремих етнографічних груп украінського етносу та їх рідна мова | Результат вибору". Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  8. ^ a b Venckūnas, V. (29 September 2012). "Tomas Baranauskas: Litvinistams svarbiausia turėti gražią istoriją, kuri galėtų sutelkti tautą". (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  9. ^ a b Chodakiewicz, Marek Jan (2012). Intermarium: The Land Between the Black and Baltic Seas. Transaction Publishers. p. 450. ISBN 978-1-4128-4774-2.
  10. ^ Bekus, Nelly (2010), "Chapter 19. Belarusian History: The Alternative and Official Historical Narrations", Struggle Over Identity: The Official and the Alternative "Belarusianness", Central European University Press, ISBN 9786155211843
  11. ^ Население по национальности и родному языку (Таблица 5.8) (PDF). Census of the Republic of Belarus 2009 (in Russian). National Statistical Committee of the Republic of Belarus. 8 December 2010. p. 5. Retrieved 23 February 2020.

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