Russians in Moldova

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Russians in Moldova
Total population
369,896 (2004 census) (9.39% of total population)
Regions with significant populations
Transnistria (30.37%)

Russians in Moldova form the second largest ethnic minority in the country. According to the Moldovan Census (2004) and a separate 2004 Census in Transnistria, about 370,000 persons identified themselves as ethnic Russians in Moldova.

Self-identification Moldovan
% Core
% Transnistria
+ Bender
Total %
Russians 201,218 5.95% 168,678 30.37% 369,896 9.39%

The Russophone population could be even larger, considering that some ethnic Ukrainians, Gagauz, and Bulgarians might be Russophones.

Population of Moldova Moldovan (Romanian) Russian Ukrainian Gagauz Bulgarian Other languages
or undeclared
by native language 2,588,355
by language of first use 2,543,354

The Russian and Ukrainian dominated Transnistria region broke away from government control amid fears the country would soon reunite with Romania.


Russians settled Moldova, which was then Bessarabia, after the Russian Empire incorporated Bessarabia in 1812. Moldavians under Russian rule enjoyed privileges well, the language of Moldavians was established as an official language in the governmental institutions of Bessarabia, used along with Russian.[1] The publishing works established by Archbishop Gavril Bănulescu-Bodoni were able to produce books and liturgical works in Moldavian between 1815 and 1820,[2] until the period from 1871 to 1905, when Russification policies were implemented that all public use of Romanian was phased out, and substituted with Russian. Romanian continued to be used as the colloquial language of home and family, mostly spoken by Romanians, either first or second language. Many Romanians changed their family names to Russian. This was the era of the highest level of assimilation in the Russian Empire.[3]

In 1918, after the relinquishment of Russian Empire, control over the whole of Bessarabia fell under the Kingdom of Romania. The takeover was followed by the policy of Romanianization of ethnic minorities, mostly Russians, pursued by the Romanian authorities. In 1940, Bessarabia was claimed by Soviet Union, meaning Bessarabia came back to Russian power, wherein Bessarabia is now part of Moldova and Ukraine. Among Russians who were Romanianized were descendants of Romanians who underwent Russification laws in the past; because many Russians of Romanian descent speak Romanian as first or second language, they easily obeyed Romanianization laws.

After the Soviet occupation of Bessarabia in 1940, Romanians went to deja vu, they came again in colonial power of Russians. The Romanian population of Bessarabia was persecuted by Soviet authorities on ethnic grounds, especially in the years following the annexation, based mostly on social, educational, and political grounds; because of this, Russification laws were imposed again on Romanian population. Among Romanians living here were descendants of Ukrainians and Russians who underwent Romanianization policies in the past.

Nowadays, Russian is provided with the status of a "language of interethnic communication", and since Soviet times remains widely used on many levels of the society and the state. According to the above-mentioned National Political Conception, Russian-Romanian bilingualism is characteristic for Moldova.[4]

Russian was granted official status in Gagauzia, a region in the south of the country inhabited mostly by ethnic Gagauz, and in the breakaway region of Transnistria in the east of the country.

380,796 people (11.25%) identify Russian as their native language, and some 540,990 (16%) speak it as first language in daily use, including 130,000 ethnic Moldovans. It is the first language for 93.2% of ethnic Russians, and a primary language for 4.9% of Moldovans, 50.0% of Ukrainians, 27.4% of Gagauz, 35.4% of Bulgarians, and 54.1% of other ethnic minorities.[5][6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (in Russian)Charter for the organization of the Bessarabian Oblast, April 29, 1818, in "Печатается по изданию: Полное собрание законов Российской империи. Собрание первое.", Vol 35. 1818, Sankt Petersburg, 1830, pg. 222–227. Available online at
  2. ^ King, Charles, The Moldovans, Hoover Press, 2000, ISBN 0-8179-9792-X, pg. 21–22
  3. ^ Colesnic-Codreanca, Lidia. Limba Română în Basarabia. Studiu sociolingvistic pe baza materialelor de arhivă (1812–1918) ("The Romanian language in Bessarabia. A sociolinguistic study based on archival materials (1812–1918)"). Chișinău: Editorial Museum, 2003.
  4. ^ (in Romanian) "Concepția politicii naționale a Republicii Moldova" Archived 2009-02-25 at the Wayback Machine Moldovan Parliament: Limba rusă care, în conformitate cu legislația în vigoare, are statutul de limbă de comunicare interetnică se aplică și ea în diverse domenii ale vieții statului și societății. Pentru Moldova este characteristic bilingvismul moldo-rus. În actualele condiţii, este necesar să se creeze posibilități reale pentru ca bilingvismul ruso-moldovenesc să devină realitate.
  5. ^ "On the situation of Russian schools in Moldova". OSCE. July 14, 2011.
  6. ^ "Law of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic on the Functioning of Languages on the Territory of the Moldavian SSR". U.S. English Foundation Research. 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-09-21.
  7. ^ "Russian language in Moldova could lose their status (Русский язык в Молдове может потерять свой статус)". KORRESPONDENT. April 6, 2013.