Did Russian settlers in Latvia and Estonia form a non-Soviet identity during the Diaspora of the USSR?

Essay by muelUniversity, Bachelor'sB-, May 2003

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Throughout Eastern Europe, across the Caucasus and as far away as the old silk roads of Central Asia we still see the former Soviet republics struggling to establish themselves as part of the world community. The break up of the USSR left a trail of confusion and dismay as newly independent countries were forced to realise their own national identity. But this was not the only legacy of mother Russia. During the Soviet years millions of ethnic Russians settled in these areas. Independence bought a new freedom for natives of the CIS and eastern block states but for the Russian new comers it bought a struggle to gain citizenship in a new and unfamiliar place.

The question over Russian settlers in the republics is no more prominent than in the Baltic States of Estonia and Latvia, not least because of the unusually high ratio of Russians speakers to the native populous.

But have these immigrants become part of their respective homes' national identity or have they drifted away from their titular countrymen? The most objective answer to this can be found by observing the political movements of the Russians and the natives surrounding the period of struggle for independence and post Soviet rule.

During the 1980s Latvia and Estonia's nod towards their independence into a popular political ideology for the native Baltic. This is where we see the first political cracks between the immigrants and the natives begin to appear. By the end of the 80s large and organised independence movements emerged from the native population (the popular fronts). It seems likely this is what caused Russian speaker's to begin questioning where their cultural alliances lay and for this many looked back to their mother land of Russia and the Soviet loyalist movements in Moscow to form the inter...