Romani people in Ukraine

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Romani people
Flag of the Romani people

The presence of a Romani minority in Ukraine was first documented in the early 14th century. Romani maintained their social organizations and folkways, shunning non-Romani contacts, education and values, often as a reaction to anti-Romani attitudes and persecution. They adopted the language and faith of the dominant society being Orthodox in most of Ukraine, Catholic in Western Ukraine and Transcarpathia, and Islam in Crimea.

During World War II the Nazis and their allies implemented their policies of the extermination of the Romani people in Ukraine. By July 1943 the Romanian authorities transported 25,000 nomad Romani from Romania to Transnistria, along the Bug river, where half perished because of the brutal treatment. In Ukraine it is estimated that 12,000 were killed by the Nazis in Babi Yar in Kiev. Other World War II massacres took place in Crimea, Podilia, Galicia and Volhynia.


According to genetic evidence the Romani people originated from India.[1]
Romani people in Lviv
Romani children in Transcarpathia
The Romani minority in Transcarpathia (census 2001)
The Romani minority in Transcarpathia (census 2001)

The Romani people originate from the Northern India,[2][3][4][5][6][7] presumably from the northwestern Indian states Rajasthan[8][9] and Punjab.[10]

The linguistic evidence has indisputably shown that roots of Romani language lie in India: the language has grammatical characteristics of Indian languages and shares with them a big part of the basic lexicon, for example, body parts or daily routines.[11]

More exactly, Romani shares the basic lexicon with Hindi and Punjabi. It shares many phonetic features with Marwari, while its grammar is closest to Bengali.[12]

Genetic findings in 2012 suggest the Romani originated in northwestern India and migrated as a group.[3][4][13] According to a genetic study in 2012, the ancestors of present scheduled tribes and scheduled caste populations of northern India, traditionally referred to collectively as the Ḍoma, are the likely ancestral populations of modern European Roma.[14]


  • Census 1887: 12,000 Romani in Russian Ukraine (without Galicia and Transcarpathia who comprise the highest Ukrainian Romani population)
  • Census 1922: 60,000 Romani in Ukrainian SSR (without Galicia and Transcarpathia)
  • Census 1959: 28,000 Romani in Ukrainian SSR
  • Census 1970: 30,100 Romani in Ukrainian SSR.
  • Census 1979: 34,500 Romani in Ukrainian SSR
  • Census 2001: 47,600 Romani in Ukraine. The estimate of the World Romani Union and the Council of Europe is considerably higher (around 400,000). The Romani organizations estimate the number at over 400,000 persons.[15]

Romani are scattered throughout Ukraine, but their largest concentration is in Transcarpathia. Half live in cities. 35% consider Romani their mother tongue. Material culture has not differed from the dominant society except in dress. They have a rich folk tradition. Romani themes can be found in Ukrainian literature.

The term Rom/Roma (Ukrainian: Ромá) is not generally used, accepted or understood in Ukraine, even by the Romani themselves. They are referred to by the generic term "Tsyhany" (Ukrainian: Цигaни)[citation needed]


  • Krimi (Крими), or Crimean Romani, migrated from the Balkans to Crimea, where they intermingled with Crimean Tatars. The majority professes Islam. Further sub-groups include Audzhi (аюджі), Gurbety (гурбети) and others. During World War II Nazis killed 800 Crymy Roma in Simferopol. Stalin evicted Tatars and Romani to Central Asia in 1944.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rajasthan turns out to be the 'baap' of Euro gypsies, DNA India, December 2, 2012 
  2. ^ Hancock 2002, p. xx: ‘While a nine century removal from India has diluted Indian biological connection to the extent that for some Romanian groups, it may be hardly representative today, Sarren (1976:72) concluded that we still remain together, genetically, Asian rather than European’
  3. ^ a b Mendizabal, Isabel; 21 others (6 December 2012). "Reconstructing the Population History of European Romani from Genome-wide Data". Current Biology. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Sindya N. Bhanoo (11 December 2012). "Genomic Study Traces Roma to Northern India". New York Times. 
  5. ^ Current Biology.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^ [4]
  10. ^ [5]
  11. ^ Šebková, Hana; Žlnayová, Edita (1998), Nástin mluvnice slovenské romštiny (pro pedagogické účely) (PDF), Ústí nad Labem: Pedagogická fakulta Univerzity J. E. Purkyně v Ústí nad Labem, p. 4, ISBN 80-7044-205-0 
  12. ^ Hübschmannová, Milena (1995). "Romaňi čhib – romština: Několik základních informací o romském jazyku". Bulletin Muzea romské kultury (Brno: Muzeum romské kultury) (4/1995). Zatímco romská lexika je bližší hindštině, marvárštině, pandžábštině atd., v gramatické sféře nacházíme mnoho shod s východoindickým jazykem, s bengálštinou. 
  13. ^ "5 Intriguing Facts About the Roma". Live Science. 
  14. ^ Rai, N; Chaubey, G; Tamang, R; Pathak, AK; Singh, VK; et al. (2012), "The Phylogeography of Y-Chromosome Haplogroup H1a1a-M82 Reveals the Likely Indian Origin of the European Romani Populations", PLoS ONE 7 (11): e48477, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048477 
  15. ^ [6]: In reality, by the preliminary estimates of communication within our nation, only the East of Ukraine has approximately 150 thousand Romani nationals, and we are sure that the Romani population on the territory of Ukraine reaches more than 400 thousand people.