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About Russia

Nations of Russia

The Moldovans

There are Moldovans in most of Russia's 89 federation subjects. The largest numbers are in Tyumenskaya Oblast (including Khanty-Mansi and Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrugs), Rostovskaya Oblast, Krasnodarsky Krai, Moscovskaya Oblast and federal city, and in Saint Petersburg.
Moldovans are the titular nation of the Moldova.
Language: Moldovan, belongs to Romanian group
Religion: Orthodox Christians
Diaspora: Ukraine, Kazakhstan

The term "Moldovans" refers to a people of Romanian language and origin that come from a territory that is centred in present-day Moldova. Also referred to as Bessarabia, this territory has come under intermittent Russian, Romanian and Soviet rule since 1812. The area to the southwest of Bessarabia, remaining as the principality of Moldova after Russia snatched Bessarabia in 1812, combined with Wallachia in 1858, and from 1862, they became known as the principality of Romania (independent Kingdom from 1878). The Moldovans of Moldova and those in Russia are so closely related to the Romanians in language, ethnicity and historical development that they can be considered one and the same people.

There are three opposing views as to the origins of the Romanian and Moldovan people. Romanian national historians claim that the Romanian people emerged from an amalgamation of the Dacian people with Roman colonists in the 2nd c. A.D. According to this view, they survived the foreign occupations during the era of migrations by retreating into the Carpathian mountains until the 13th c., and reentering history as the Moldovans and the Wallachians. Some Hungarian and Western scholars, however, hold that the Romanians are descended from the romanized population of the Balkans south of the Danube - the so called Vlachs, who during the era of migrations retreated to mountains south of the Carpathians. This theory has it that they settled in present-day Romania and Moldova in the 13th c. The third view is now obsolete, but was held by Soviet Moldovan historians until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. This third view attempted to fabricate a separate ethnogenesis for the Moldovans by over-emphasizing their Slavic component in the development of the Moldovan nation.

The Principality of Moldavia was established in in the 14th c., and reached its highest position as a state under Stephen the Great (Stefan Viatul) in the second half of the 15th c., and the first years of the 16th. Under Stephen's successor, Bogdan II, both Moldavia and Wallachia became vassal principalities under the Ottomans. The two principalities tried to throw off Turkish suzerainty by exploiting the many wars between the Ottomans and the Habsburgs, the Poles, and finally the Russians, during the 16th and 17th c.
Because of their location along the direct invasion route to the Ottoman capital, Moldova and Wallachia became areas of warfare and occupation in the many Russo-Turkish wars in the 18th c. Perhaps as many as a 100.000 Moldovans settled in Russia towards the end of the 18th c., as part of military settler regiments established by tsar in areas that had been newly conquered by the Russian empire. Many ended up in the Yelizavetgrad province, or on the Crimea.
As already mentioned, Russia acquired Bessarabia (north eastern part of the original principality of Moldavia) in 1812. Parts of Bessarabia was ceded by Russia after the Crimean War (1853-56), but regained through the 1878 Treaty of Berlin.
The period of Russian imperial administration in Bessarabia ended with the Russian revolution in 1917. In 1918, an independent Republic of Moldova was established in Bessarabia, but after a few months it entered into a union with Romania, and became a Romanian province.
In 1924, a Moldovan ASSR was formed in the Soviet Union, on a narrow stripe along the Soviet side of the Dniestr river. The Moldovan ASSR was run mostly by Russians and Ukrainians, and two of its main purposes was to conduct a propaganda campaign against Romanian possession of Bessarabia, and to develop an effective Romanian Communist cadre.
Through the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of 1939, the Soviet union was able to reannex Romanian Bessarabia and include it into a larger Moldovan SSR. A coarse "sovietisation"-campaign followed, including confiscation of land for collectivisation and relocation of over 100.000 Moldovans to other Soviet republics. When the Axis powers invaded in 1941, some 300,000 inhabitants of Bessarabia were "evacuated" to republics away from the border. During the 11 months of Soviet rule, a total of more than 150,000 were deported to Siberia and Central Asia, and thousands were executed.
By the summer of 1944, Soviet forces had again occupied Bessarabia, but also all of Romania. The Moldavian SSR with 1940-41 borders was revived in 1945. A main priority for the Soviets was to keep Moldova separate from Romania. With post-war Romania also communist by 1948, ideological differences could not be used, and therefore Soviet authorities tried to sever ethnic, linguistic and cultural ties. Cyrillic script was imposed, Moldovan vocabulary was manipulated, introducing Russian loan words and eliminating adoptions from Romance languages. Moldovan history was likewise rewritten, as mentioned above.
With national communism replacing Stalinism in Romania in the 1960s, Romanian historians started describing Moldova as a historical part of Romania. Many cultural and personal ties were reestablished, until Brezhnev banned most Moldovan Romanian cultural contacts by 1970.
This ban was not lifted until the Gorbachov era of Glasnost and Perestroyka, when calls for national self-determination again were heard. In 1989, the Moldovan Supreme Soviet reintroduced the Latin script, and declared Moldovan and Romanian language as identical. In June 1990 the Moldovan SSR was declared a sovereign state, and its name was changed to Moldova. In December 1991, Moldova joined the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Calls for reunification with Romania have weakened, in the light of severe economic depression in Romania.
Moldova has internal ethnic conflicts with Russians and Ukrainians in its Trans-Dniester region, and with Gagauz in the south-west.
Among the many Moldovans that are scattered almost all over the Russian Federation as a result of settlers in the 18th c., and Stalin's deportations in the 20th, so far there is no significant migration to Moldova.


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