Provozně ekonomická fakulta ČZU v Praze, Kamýcká 129, 165 21 Praha-Suchdol
Transformation of the identity of Old Believers in the Baltic states (Latvia and Estonia) and Romania
Author: Kristina Nesterenko
Page Range: 62-78
No. of Pages: 17
Keywords: Old Believers; identity transformation; religious group; ethnic group; Romania; Latvia; Estonia
Summary/Abstract: This article explores the current situation for religious groups of Russian Old Believers in two Baltic states (Latvia and Estonia) and Romania. The article is devoted to the results of field research, which compares this minority in terms of language, religion, and ethnicity. The article addresses the transformation of the original identity of Old Believers and explains the origin and history of Old Believers in the three countries.
The Old Believers are Russians who did not accept Patriarch Nikon’s ecclesiastical reform in the 17th century and fled to quiet, deserted places – for example, to the Danube Delta, on the shores of Lake Chudskoye, to save themselves from persecution. Not all Old Believers, however, settled in desolate places – some went to cities where they were beyond the reach of various persecutions because of their faith.
During church reforms, sacred books, ceremonies and symbols were modified. The traditional eight-pointed cross was replaced by a four-pointed cross, the two-fingered crucifixion replaced the ceremonial use of three fingers, the writing Iisus was commanded instead of Isus, and baptism by sprinkling displaced the previous three-fold total immersion during this ceremony.
The Old Believers are divided into two main lines – Popovtsi and Bezpopovtsi (Popeless). The „Bezpopovtsi“ do not have a pope (priest) as their chief superior, but this function is fulfilled by a „cerkovnyj nastavnik“ (spiritual leader). The „Bezpopovtsi“ reject not only the Church hierarchy, but also most of the sacraments except two: baptism and the sacrament of reconciliation. In Estonia, the Old Believers are represented mostly by the „Fedoseyev confession“, in Latvia mostly „Pomoranian confession“. Old Believers in Romania are predominantly of the „Bilokrinitsiya confession“, but in small numbers one can also find popeless of the „Novosibian confession“. The cults of the Old Believers appear only in Romania – among them are the Khatnitsi, Skoptsi and Molokans.
Figure 1. The subdivision of the Old Believers.
The division of the Old Believers also implies their different cultural and foreign policy orientation. The „Bezpopovtsi“ consider themselves Russians and are very much oriented towards Russia, while the „Popovtsi“ consider themselves part of Old Russia, and contemporary Russia and the contemporary Russian language are very foreign to them.
For the Old Believers in Romania, the main component of their identity is their Lipovan language. It is even more important than religion, because Romania is an Orthodox state and the faith of the Old Believers in these conditions may not always be their main differentiating feature.
The situation is different in the Baltic states under study. Due to the large Russian minority in Estonia and Latvia, the language of the Old Believers does not play a major role in the formation of their identity, although it does have its specificities.
The Old Believers in all three countries have a privileged position, are supported by the government, have representatives in parliaments, and receive state subsidies.
This paper is based on field research in Romania, Latvia and Estonia, where, according to statistical data, the majority of Old Believers (outside Russia) live. The first field research was carried out in Romania, in the historical region of Dobrudja, mainly in the villages around the town of Tulcea in the Danube Delta. The next country in which research was conducted is Latvia, specifically the city of Riga, and the territories of Latgale and Kuronia. The last country surveyed is Estonia, especially the villages around Chud Lake: Kallaste, Kolkya, Mustvee, Raya.
The Russian-speaking inhabitants of the Danube Delta and its surroundings are referred to as Lipovtsi (Lipovans) and are sometimes counted as Russians (and sometimes Ukrainians) in some censuses. These are descendants of religious Old Greek (Old Believers) exiles who fled to the Danube Delta. This area was part of the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century. The Turks allowed the Lipovans to follow their religion and build churches only on the condition that they were no higher than mosques. The Turks did not aim at religious homogenization. At this time the Lipovans were content, which lasted until the 19th century. In 1877-1878, the Russo-Turkish War took place, which resulted in the annexation of the Danube Delta to Romania. As a result, Romanians also began to settle the area, and the population of the Lipovans began to shrink as a result of partial assimilation.
After the end of the First World War and the Revolution, the Romanians began to persecute the Russian Bolsheviks. In this context, Russian-speaking Old Believers were also discriminated against and accused of spying for the Soviet Union. In the town of Tulcea, the Lipovtsi (Lipovans) had their own ghetto where they had to wear Jewish stars. In schools, children were not allowed to speak Russian. Teachers had to point out children who spoke Russian – they were then physically punished. The Romanian government even made plans to deport the Old Believers.
The Lipovan community in Romania uses the Lipovan language. The Lipovan language is considered to be an old form of Russian. The Lipovans emphasize that they speak the Lipovan language, not Russian, thus showing that they are not oriented towards today’s Russia.
The Lipovans in Romania tend to linguistically assimilate with the majority society. The youth usually have no motivation to learn the Lipovan language, and the elderly forget it because they do not use it – regardless of the fact that the Lipovans people have strong enough institutional support, such as Russian television, their own magazines, cultural centre, church. The Lipovans have little incentive to save the language because of economic and social reasons. They do not see any advantages in using Russian; knowing the mother tongue of parents and grandparents cannot improve the economic situation of the youth or their status in society. The main deficiency in institutional support is the absence of Russian schools. In addition, the Lipovans lack a political party that would help unite the minority, defend its interests, and have a higher status in society, such as the Hungarian minority in Romania, which has its own political representation and thus some power.
Currently, the minorities of Romania, including the Old Believers, have all the opportunities for equality with other citizens, such as equality of religion, use of their native language, etc.
In 2005, a law was adopted which prohibits any direct or indirect measures to modify the ethnic composition of the population in areas traditionally inhabited by minorities and to change the boundaries of territorial units to the disadvantage of minorities. The law guarantees the right to education in the mother tongue at all levels of school, the right to establish one’s own cultural institutions supported financially by the State, the right to receive information in the mother tongue (space in public media, possibility of establishing private media), equality and independence of religion, and mandates the use of the mother tongue in official communications in localities where the number of members of a minority exceeds 20 %, including the marking of localities, streets and public institutions.
Members of minorities may express themselves in their mother tongue before the courts. At local government level, minority languages may be used in some areas.
In Romania, so-called „Popovtsi“ predominate, but there are also „Bezpopovtsi“ (Popeless). Previously, this division was clearly defined. The Popeless considered the acceptance of Metropolitan Amvrossios as sacrilege. They did not accept the „Bilokrinitsiya confession“, they received theirs only in 1923 – this is called the „Novosibian confession“, whose representative became Alexander Kalinin. The division of the Old Believers among themselves caused much defiance and bad relations. It was not possible to intermarry across groups, nor to make any friends with members of other religious groups.
The main visible difference was that members of the „Popovtsi“ church had a church that contained a chime that announced holidays and death. Members of the „Popeless“ group did not have a church, only prayer rooms.
There are also those in Romania who did not accept the Pope from Russia even in the 20th century – they are called „Khatnitsi“, which is a kind of Popeless line. They pray at home and even perform all the holy rites themselves at home. Nowadays there are no more Khatnitsi in Dobrudja, only memories of them remain among the respondents, and mostly negative ones.
Skoptsi are Russian ancient believers who consider castration as a struggle with one’s own body and as a means to save the soul. Skoptsi do not pray to the icons of Lipovan, they have their own and reject others. There are only a few families left in Tulcea Skoptsi , the others mostly live in Russia. It is a very closed group that does not accept anyone into their religious group or into their lives.
Another group are the „Molokans“. The name „Molokans“ comes from the custom of drinking milk during Lent, which is forbidden among Orthodox Christians. The „Molokans“ themselves are certain that they have their origin in the Holy Scriptures, where St. Peter said, „as newborn babes, have a desire only for unadulterated spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation.“ (1 The Epistle of Peter 2:2)
The second name for „Molokans“ is „spiritual Christians“. This name emphasizes that the meaning of life is not in the body but in the spirit. The name „spiritual Christians“ also has its origin in the Holy Scriptures. In the period of Tsarist Russia, „Molokans“ were considered the worst heretics. They did not recognize any icons or crosses, in addition, „Molokans“ do not approve of reverence for the saints, reject the church hierarchy, do not eat pork and do not drink alcohol. Furthermore, “ Molokans“ reject the sacraments of the Church, preferring only spiritual sacraments that have no relation to the body. They reject churches and temples because they are made by human hands and have a direct relationship to the body. The worship of the „Molokans“
is held in the homes of members of the community and is based on the reading of the Bible. A table is set up in the middle of the room, with benches for women on the left and men on the right.
In Romania, according to various estimates, there are between 35 and 100 thousand Lipovans. After Romania joined the European Union and the opening of national borders, young Lipovan people migrated to Italy or Spain, where it is easier to find work. They start international families and thus lose their language and roots.
None of the respondents ever felt discriminated against for belonging to the Lipa minority. On the contrary, all respondents answered that they felt a great support from the state and were very grateful for it. In this ethnically diverse area, a kind of rivalry has developed between ethnic minorities for a better concert or educational centre. The interest of each group is to spend the money they have received from the state for support and development as efficiently as possible.
The first Russian settlers founded the town of Jurjev / Юрьев (today’s Tartu) in the 11th century, long before the church reform in Russia, which took place in the 17th century. The founding of Yuriev marks the beginning of the history of the Russian community in Estonia, the existence of which is still attested by the folklore and language – many East Slavic borrowings in the Estonian language.
From the 17th century onwards, the Russian settlement on the western shore of Lake Peipsi (Lake Chudskoe) has been expanding. This is the emergence of the first Old Believer community in Estonia, which fell under the rule of the Swedish crown, after the bloody war mainly over Livonia between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Sweden in the 17th century (1626-1629). The first house of prayer was built in the village of Kikita in 1740.
At the beginning of the 18th century, as a result of the so-called Northern War (between Sweden and Russia), the territory of present-day Estonia became part of the Russian Empire as the Estonian Gubernia (Estljandskaja gubernija), which was inhabited by Germans and Russians in addition to the majority Estonians. During the reign of Tsar Nicholas I (reigned 1825-1855), a repressive government policy was implemented against the Old Believers. As early as 1820, an inventory was taken of them in Estonia, new houses of worship were forbidden to be built, and old churches were closed.
During the reign of Alexander III (reigned 1881-1894) the policy of Russification of the border lands began. During this period, the Russian population in Estonia increased significantly. Russians, including Old Believers, became the largest ethnic group in the province after Estonians and before Germans.
The beginning of the twentieth century was marked by the adoption of important laws for the Old Believers – in 1905 the Religious Freedom Act was adopted.
A new stage in the history of the Russian community began with the proclamation of the independent Republic of Estonia in 1918. This period is characterized by the Russian minority acquiring the features of a national minority and diaspora. In 1926, 12 communities of Old Believers were re-registered under the new law of Estonia. During this period there were approximately 10,000 Old Believers in Estonia.
In the post-war years and throughout the period of Soviet power, Estonian Old Believers were in decline. The government carried out widespread anti-religious propaganda and atheistic education of the youth. Prayer houses were mostly attended by women and the elderly. In the period from 1955 to 1965, most of the young people left for the cities, especially Tallinn and Tartu. Compared to the pre-war numbers, the number of Old Believers was halved during the Soviet period. Nevertheless, the spiritual atmosphere in Estonia was freer than in Russia and many other republics of the Soviet Union, which attracted scholars and writers.
Thus, it can be concluded that the history of the Russian community in Estonia has had a long and difficult journey, where the Old Believers have a special position: they belong to the Russian minority, but in a way they separate themselves from the Russian minority.
The population of the western shore of Lake Chud Lake has always been considered bilingual. The Old Believers here had good relations with the Estonians, who are Lutherans, and had no problem with the religion of their Russian neighbours. Perhaps because of these good relations, the Old Believers were not completely isolated and this openness influenced their language. The language of contemporary Old Believers (as is the case with the language of other bilingual people) is characterized by switching language codes, adopting foreign lexical and syntactic constructions and vocabulary.
The main characteristic feature of the language of the West Lake Chud Lake Old People is a special fishing vocabulary. The Old Believers of this area have more than 6 000 fish names and are an interesting subject of research for Estonian dialectologists. The fishing lexicon reflects the everyday life of the Old Believers and highlights the antiquity of their dialect.
The current situation in Estonia is that there is a trend towards the integration of Russian children into the Estonian education system and Estonian society in general. This leads to Russian becoming a foreign language for most children. The Estonian Language Act of 1995 states that Estonian is the only national language of Estonia, other languages are considered foreign.
Two Russian magazines and many bilingual ones are published in Estonia. There is a state radio station with Russian broadcasts, whose management is very concerned about the quality of the Russian language and cooperates with the Russian language department. There are no Russian television channels, but most people have satellites at home, which gives them the opportunity to watch Russian television.
Secondary education in Russian is gradually disappearing, firstly because of demographic developments and then because of government policy. There are three types of schools in Estonia: Russian schools, Russian so-called „immersion“ schools, where most subjects are in Estonian, and purely Estonian schools. Parents have the choice of which school they want to send their children to. Some parents deliberately let their children study in Estonian schools in order not to have language problems later on at universities, and also for social status and better employment opportunities.
The Old Believers in Estonia (as in Latvia) belong to a group known as the „Popeless“. This means that they do not have a “ pop“ (priest), but a congregational leader. Like in Romania, the Estonian Popeless reject the church hierarchy and the sacraments except baptism and the sacrament of reconciliation. In Estonia, the Old Believers are represented by the „Pomoranian confession“ and „Fedoseyev confessions“. The division used to be strict; members of one denomination could not go to other people’s houses of worship or marry members of another denomination. Nowadays, Old Believers can attend any house of prayer, but in most cases each member of the community goes where he or she has been accustomed to going since childhood, where his or her parents went. It almost never happens that a Pomoranian goes to a Fedoseyev prayer house. The main differences between these denominations are:
- Colour of clothing for the service („sarafan“ – traditional Russian rural national dress (costume) without sleeves – for women and “ azyam“ – summer holiday outerwear of Russian peasants in some southern gubernias, the same cut as the ordinary peasant kaftan / long coat – for men). The Pomoranians wear white clothes for the holidays, the Fedoseyevs always wear black.
- People who are married are not allowed to pray at the front of the houses of worship – they have a designated place at the back. Previously, however, Fedoseyevs could not even enter the house of prayer after entering into marriage. Nowadays, even widows are allowed to pray in prayer houses, which was not possible before.
- The method of tying scarves for women – however, few people observe this nowadays.
At present, the approximate number of Old Believers in Estonia is around 15,000 people. The descendants of the Old Believers still baptize their children and at Easter the houses of prayer are as crowded as they used to be. There are 11 Old Believers‘ communities in Estonia: 9 of them are on the shores of Lake Chud (Lake Peipus), one in the city of Tartu and one in the capital Tallinn.
In the 17th century, the Old Believers inhabited the shores of Lake Chud, and fishing became their main way of subsistence. The Estonian population preferred agriculture, so the Old Believers lived more or less isolated and had good relations with their Estonian neighbours. Fishing greatly influenced not only the way of life of the minority, but also their language.
The antiquity and traditionality of the village population lies in its isolation. It is not only part of the collective identity of the Old Believers, but also an objective factor determining the peculiarity of the Old Believers‘ language. Thanks to their isolation, they have managed to preserve their archaic language. On the one hand, the language of the local population is archaic, but on the other hand, it has not managed to avoid being influenced by Estonian.
The Old Believers are considered to be the autochthonous population of Estonia. Unlike the Russian minority, they have a preferred position by the state. The state provides money for research on the Old Believers, their culture and language much more readily than for scientific research related to the Russian minority. Being an Old Believer in Estonia is also a matter of a certain prestige, because in most cases a person belonging to an ancient family has a precious icon or a cross at home that he has inherited from his ancestors.
Considering the complicated history of the ancient people in Estonia, it is safe to say that they may stay in this area for a long time. The Old Believers have very strong roots on the shores of Lake Chud. Their prayer houses have been burned down, closed many times, but have been rebuilt again. It used to seem that when the last of the old men died, that would be the end of the Old Believers, but one generation is replacing another. Nowadays, there is a trend among the youth to discover their roots, to rediscover the traditions of their ancestors.
The shores of Lake Chud are characterised by the intermingling of two cultures, with Estonians and Russians living side by side for more than 300 years, with different languages, different religions, different rituals, who do not connect, yet get along well.
In the 17th century, the Old Believers came to a territory that was divided between two states, Poland and Sweden. The most difficult situation was faced by the inhabitants of the eastern part of Latvia – Latgale, which at that time fell under the „Rzeczpospolita“ – the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
The Old Believers came to Latgale for a number of reasons, among which was the need for labour on the devastated land after the war between Poland, Russia and Sweden.
Another wave of migration not only of Old Believers but also of ordinary peasants from Russia occurred in the early 18th century during the reign of Peter the Great. This wave was caused by feudal pressure, increased taxes, levies… The situation of the Old Believers was aggravated by additional measures directed against them through the decree of Peter the Great.
The flight of people abroad, including to Latgale, continued even later, despite the fact that in 1772, after the first partition of Poland, Latgale was annexed to Russia. However, escape abroad did not always mean the acquisition of freedom. Feudal conditions in Eastern Europe at the end of the 18th century did not differ much from one another. But another thing was important for the peasants: in order to attract and retain labour, Polish landlords granted them certain benefits. Because they were interested in the arrival of Russian refugees, they were willing to take them home and provide them with safe shelter. The conviction that the Polish and German population would not betray them to the Russian state authorities was of great importance to the decision to flee. In 1826 there were 26,966 Old Believers in Latgale.
In the 1930s, the transition of the Old Believers in Latvia to „yedinoveriye“ / one faith began, which is reflected in the change of statistical data. The church of the „one-faithers“ was established on the initiative of the Orthodox Church and the government, occupying a position in the middle of the Orthodox Church and the Old Believers. The services were conducted by the „one-faithers“ on the basis of the old books and the old rite, but organizationally they fell under Orthodoxy. The main incentive for the transition to „one-faithers“ was the suppression of the Old Believers during the reign of Nicholas I. However, this transition did not become a mass phenomenon. It was mainly the wealthier class of Old Believers who joined the new Church, because of the decree, which was primarily directed against the interests of wealthier persons.
In 1918, Latvia gains independence. The Old Believers received Latvian passports and actively participated in political life, for example, two of the Old Believers became members of the government after the 1920 elections and publicly represented the interests of the Latvian Old Believers. The government of that time fully corresponded to the interests and hopes of the Old Believers, who also provided monetary aid for the development of the Church. The Latvian government supported the Old Believers not only politically but also financially – for example, Old Believers could buy wood at a discount for the construction and reconstruction of churches. Some communities received land from the state to build churches. The relationship between the government and the religious group can be described as a mutually beneficial cooperation that lasted until 1940, until the Soviet occupation of Latvia.
The Old Believers‘ communities lost their properties during the Soviet rule, were unable to keep civil registers, and all archives were confiscated. The churches became subject to strong ideological pressure. The media strongly attacked Christianity and priests. Leaflets about the dangers of religion were published in large numbers. Evening lectures were held all the time, where the clergy were called „the enemy of the working people“.
Thus, after Latvia’s entry into the USSR, a difficult period in the life of the Church began – the struggle for survival in an atheistic state. It was also a period characterized by destroyed churches and persecuted priests. A new stage in the history of Latvia and Latvian Old Believers came with the independence in 1991.
The history of the Old Believers in Courland differs from that of Latgale. The first mention of Russian settlers in Riga dates back to the 13th century, before the church reform in Russia. Mass migration of Old Believers to Riga, like to Latgale and Estonia, took place mainly in the 18th century during the reign of Peter the Great. This was due to the advantageous location of Riga and its relative proximity to their original homes, on the one hand, and some protection from the arbitrary rule of the existing government, on the other. The absence of conscription was also important for the Old Believers because of their religious attitudes. The main reason why Riga became an attractive centre for the Old Believers was its rapid economic growth and expanding trade. In the 18th century, Riga was still very attractive to the Old Believers because of the policy of Catherine II, who abolished the customs borders between Russia and the Baltic states.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Old Believers, like other Russians, lived on the periphery of the city, mostly in the „Moscow Forstadt“, due to the fact that they were not allowed to live and trade in the city. The Riga Germans feared competition on the outskirts and were the only international traders. The situation changed with the „ukaz“ (law) of Catherine II, which guaranteed German craftsmen the same rights as others. From then on, the economic growth of the old craftsmen began. The number of traders increased considerably, which is a determining factor in their distinction from other communities to this day.
The 19th century is also characterized by the influx of Russian population due to rapid capitalist growth. The wealthiest of the Old Believers helped their community materially, building houses of prayer, hospitals, and schools.
The linguistic situation of the Old Believers in Latvia is the best of the three countries studied (Romania, Estonia, Latvia). The youth speak Russian at a native speaker level, they also know Latvian and have employment benefits because of this, unlike Latvian youth who often do not want to learn Russian because of their communist past. In general, among the Russian population, many older people do not speak Latvian and therefore have very limited opportunities at the institutional level – for example, they do not have citizenship. But the old-timers are not affected by this situation, they are considered to be autochthonous, they all have Latvian passports, they all know the Latvian language, they are represented in the parliament and are very active in public life.
The Old Believers in Latvia speak contemporary Russian because of the absence of a village population where the Old Russian language could be preserved, as it is in Romania and Estonia.
In the Baltic States, the situation of Russian minorities is complicated. In 1995, a law was adopted on the status of citizens of the former USSR who do not have Latvian citizenship. On the basis of this law, non-citizens were granted economic rights, but they did not receive social or political rights. This means that they cannot be members of political parties, and generally have no access to politics, including the right to vote. 800 000 Latvian Russians are thus ‚second-class‘ citizens. According to Ivo Pospisil, there are areas in Latvia where the Russian minority is a majority. In other countries, it is common practice for the authorities to use the native language in such cases, but this is not the case in Latvia.
The restrictions directed primarily against the Russian minority do not apply to the Old Believers in most cases because most of them have Latvian citizenship. Regardless of the fact that the Old Believers are in a way singled out against the Russian minority, they share one neighbourhood in Riga – „Moscow Forstadt“. This neighborhood was considered a Russian ghetto because the Russian population was forbidden to live in other parts of the city. During the Second World War, there was a Jewish ghetto where Russians lived together with Jews, as was also the case in Romania. To this day, „Moscow Forstadt“ remains a forgotten corner. The houses here are gradually falling into disrepair, and only a few are being reconstructed.
There are dozens of Old Believers‘ prayer houses and six churches in Latvia. The absolute majority of the Old Believers of Latvia are „Popeless Pomoranians“ (they do not recognize ordained church leaders – popes) and because they do not have a spiritual father, they do not have a church hierarchy. They recognize only baptism and the sacrament of reconciliation, which are administered by the leaders of the church communities. The „Popeless Pomoranians“ recognize marriage, unlike the „Fedoseyev confession“ Popeless Pomoranians. They carry out missionary activities, but in reality their numbers are dwindling.
A formal division among the Old Believers occurred in the early 18th century over the issue of marriage. The conflict was based on differences in the social status of their followers. As a result of increased prosperity, it was necessary to pass on inheritance to their children, and this in turn influenced the ideology of the Old Believers, who abandoned demands for universal celibacy and began to recognize civil marriage.
The other part of the Old Believers, which was mainly among low-income people, continued to insist on rejecting marriage and was classified as one of the most harmful sects because they „blaspheme the Church and the sacraments“, „reject marriage, and have no moral values“.
Only four people of the Fedoseyev confession remain in Latvia, who are very isolated, not accepting the continuation of the family line, so as not to subject their children to torment until the second coming of the Lord Jesus.
There are currently around 80 communities in Latvia. Most of the Old Believers live in the city of Daugavpils in Latgale, where there are six communities. The „Riga Grebenshchik community“ is the largest and richest, it has the largest church – „Riga Grebenshchik church“. There is even a seminary near the church where one can study and get a bachelor’s degree.
A characteristic feature of the Old Believers communities in Latvia is their somewhat conflicting situation. Mutual misunderstanding is reflected especially in the published literature – each community has a number of its own publications in which different interpretations of certain historical events can be observed. Apart from differences in publications, there is a tacit competition for seats in parliament, for valuable icons, valuable books, government grants. Each community takes care of the registrations of all associations with the authorities, of the prestigious education in the Grebenshchikov Temple Seminary, of the number of publications of each community. At present, three elders are members of the Latvian Parliament.
Unlike the Old Believers in Romania, the Latvian Old Believers do not try to fight against time, but instead embrace it and use it to their advantage. They use cars, the Internet, mobile phones, they consider themselves as agents of progress, as successful people. The most successful of them build prayer houses and help the financial development of the community.
In Latvia there is an association of entrepreneurs that operates under the auspices of the church. The aim of this organization is to unite all businessmen – Old Believers in all countries and help them in their field of activity. After the two forums that have already taken place, the priorities of the entrepreneurs can be identified. Priority is given to the construction and reconstruction of housing, energy, wood processing, management of land and other types of property, tourism and the care of pilgrimage sites in a Christian spirit.
As the Old Believers of Latvia are considered to be an indigenous population, they have no problems with the state authorities or with the Latvian language. The Old Believers in Latvia have so far enjoyed a good status, regardless of the fact that the situation of the Russian minority in the Baltic States is not easy. Most of them are interested in emphasising their religious affiliation in the census, and even so they are distinguished from the Russian minority.
The state supports the religious minority with various grants and subsidies, so the Old Believers can organize children’s camps, meetings and conferences. It can be said that the Old Believers community in Latvia is well prosperous. Under the conditions of the current processes associated with globalisation, there is a need for self-differentiation among them, for example in terms of ethnicity and religion.
Orthodox Old Believers are a religion that has endured persecution, punishment, displacement, but also acceptance and adaptation to new living conditions. Notwithstanding the fact that the uniqueness of this religion lies in its adherence to old traditions and its rejection of innovations and reforms, some of its members are very flexible and adapt easily. The specificity of some Old Believers is their quick adaptation to new conditions, friendly relations with people of other denominations, observance of rules and use of the language of the state. Old Believers are considered to be very hardworking people who have always achieved success in agriculture, which contributed to the improvement of economic and friendly relations with the surrounding population.
In fact, contrary to initial assumptions about the linguistic similarity of Old Believers in Latvia and Estonia, the main influence on their linguistic situation is the way of life – urban or rural. The results of the research showed the linguistic similarity of the Old Believers of Romania and Estonia. Due to their isolation in rural areas and in conditions of foreign language environment, Old Believers have preserved their archaic language. The Old Believers of Latvia are concentrated in cities and live together with the Russian minority, both in Riga and in Latgale, which has greatly influenced their language. Linguistic switching can be observed in each state, making the language of each minority unique because of the different groups of dominant languages: Estonian belongs to the Finno-Ugric languages, Latvian to the Baltic languages, Romanian to the Romance languages.
The similarity of the Old Believers of Estonia and Romania can be observed even in the younger generation. The lack of knowledge of the Russian language among the youth is a problem of preserving the identity of minorities.
The religious aspect of life also shows the similarity of the Romanian Old Believers with the Estonian ones, as they belong to different groups and different religions. In the villages one can observe the preservation of the manifestations of faith, its preservation in its original state. In the cities of Riga, Daugavpils, Ekabpils, religious adaptation to the urban way of life can be observed, which concerns both dress and observance of traditions.
The key research question is the basis of the identity of each of the minorities under study. It can certainly be said that origins based on religion play an important role for the Old Believers of all states. Given that the Lipovans live in an Orthodox state, their distinctiveness from the dominant society is not constituted by their faith per se, but by the language used to determine membership in the community. In the Baltic states, the Old Believers are surrounded by a large Russian minority, from which they differentiate themselves through their religious beliefs.
The question of the transformation of indigenous identity arises nowadays. The transformation of indigenous identity in Romania and Estonia is mainly linked to urban processes based on modernisation. The trend of young people leaving for the big cities is a problem of the continued existence of a minority based on the preservation of ancient rites and the rejection of novelties.
In Latvia, the urban population has always been predominant among the old ceremonialists. The inhabitants of Riga have always been regarded as successful businessmen who have a positive relationship with the modernisation process. Today, according to the number of young people, we can speak of an active life of a developing community that accepts the progress of time and tries to use this progress to its advantage.
„What helps us to preserve our identity? The fact that we are keeping up with the times, passing on our religious awareness to our children in such a way that they will have the motivation and interest to consider themselves as Old Believers.“
Apart from the urban question, the dilemma arises whether, for example, in Romania, the ethnic understanding of the Lipovan culture changes the idea of the identity of the Old Believers, where religious affiliation initially prevails over ethnicity in the structure of self-determination. In other words, in Romania, religious culture and identity changes into ethnic culture and identity. It remains to be seen how these processes will evolve and how they will transform a conservative religious culture into a culture that seeks to preserve its ethnic distinctions with a gradual separation from the basic postulates that were primarily based on religion.
 BUDIL, Ivo. Mýtus, jazyk a kulturní antropologie, Praha: 1998, s. 177
 The Fedoseyev confession – an Old Believer movement in the late 17th and early 18th centuries in the northwestern European part of Russia. The Fedoseyevs rejected state intervention (they did not recognize the state in practice) and were characterized by strict asceticism. They rejected prayers for the tsar, and questioned the institution of marriage.
 This line originated in an area in the north of the European part of Russia (Pomorie / Поморье). Because of the absence of priests, these Old Believers began to conduct services themselves and tried to avoid the words used by priests (pops).
 The name of the Church of the Old Believers, founded by Metropolitan Ambrosius. The Popeless considered the acceptance of Metropolitan Ambrosius as sacrilege. For a more detailed account of this group in Russia and Crimea, see BEL’SKIJ, A. V. Istorija Belokrinickoj staroobrjadčeskoj cerkvi v Rossii i v Krymu (XIX-XX veka). Kul’tura narodov Pričernomor’ja, 3/1998, s. 89–95.
 Those who did not accept the „Bilokrinitsiya confession“ got their own only in 1923 – this is referred to as the „Novosibian confession“, whose representative became Alexander Kalinin.
 „Khatnitsi“ belongs to the Popeless line, they tend to be considered more of a sect. They pray at home, where they perform all the ceremonies themselves.
 These are Russian Old Believers who consider castration as a struggle with one’s own body, as the salvation of the soul.
 The name „Molokans“ (moloko = milk) comes from the custom of drinking milk during Lent, which is forbidden among Orthodox Christians. They do not recognize any icons or crosses, and in addition, Molokans do not approve of veneration of saints, reject the church hierarchy, do not eat pork and do not drink alcohol. Molokans reject the sacraments of the Church, preferring only spiritual sacraments that have no relation to the body. They reject churches and temples because they are made by human hands and have a direct relationship to the body. The Molokans form more compact groups, for example in the Caucasus. (SAMARINA, Ol’ga Ivanovna. Obščiny molokan na Kavkaze: istorija, kul’tura, byt, chozjajstvennaja dějatěl’nost‘. 2004. PhD Thesis. Stavropol‘.)
 ŠATAVA, Leoš. Národnostní menšiny v Evropě: encyklopedická příručka. Praha: I. Železný, 1994. ISBN 80-7116-375-9, s. 255.
 NESTERENKO, K. Etnická identita Rusů (včetně Lipovců) v Rumunsku, ČZU, Praha, 2015.
 ROVNOVA, O. (eds.) Meždunarodnye Zavolokinskije čtěnija. Riga, 2014, ISBN 9984-9499-8-2.
 ISAKOV, Sergej. Russkoje nacional’noje men’šinstvo v Estonskoj respublike (1918–1940), Kripta: 2000, ISBN 9985-60-904-2.
 Because religious affiliation is not reported in the census, it is not possible to get exact figures on the number of Old Believers, only from respondents‘ estimates.
 NESTERENKO, K. Rusové (staroobřadníci) v Estonsku, 2016. [online] pestraevropa.hks.re [cit. 29. 2. 2017] dostupné z: <http://pestraevropa.hks.re/2016/rusove-staroobradnici-v-estonsku/>
 ZAVARINA, Antonina. Russkoje naselenije vostočnoj Latvii vo vtoroj polovině XIX- načale XX veka: istoriko-etnografičeskij očerk. Riga: Zinatně, 1986.
 ROVNOVA, O. (eds.) Meždunarodnye Zavolokinskije čtěnija. Riga, 2014, ISBN 9984-9499-8-2.
 POSPÍŠIL, Ivo. Ruská menšina v Pobaltí: „etnické čistky“ či náprava „minulých nespravedlností“? Politologický časopis 2/1998, s. 204–209. Další dostupnost: <http://www.politologickycasopis.cz/cz/archiv/1998/2/>.
BEL’SKIJ, A. V. Istorija Belokrinickoj staroobrjadčeskoj cerkvi v Rossii i v Krymu (XIX-XX veka). Kul’tura narodov Pričernomor’ja, 3/1998, s. 89–95.
BUDIL, Ivo. Mýtus, jazyk a kulturní antropologie. Praha: Triton, 1998. ISBN 80-7254-321-0.
ISAKOV, Sergej. Russkoje nacional’noje men’šinstvo v Estonskoj respublike (1918–1940), Kripta: 2000, ISBN 9985-60-904-2.
NESTERENKO, Kristina. Etnická identita Rusů (včetně Lipovců) v Rumunsku, Praha: ČZU, 2015.
NESTERENKO, Kristina. Ruští staroobřadníci v Lotyšsku, 2015. [online] Pestrá Evropa [cit. 29. 2. 2017] dostupné z:<http://pestraevropa.hks.re/2015/Rusove-Pobalti/>
POSPÍŠIL, Ivo. Ruská menšina v Pobaltí: „etnické čistky“ či náprava „minulých nespravedlností“? Politologický časopis 2/1998, s. 204–209. Další dostupnost: <http://www.politologickycasopis.cz/cz/archiv/1998/2/>.
ROVNOVA, O. (eds.) Meždunarodnye Zavolokinskije čtěnija. Riga, 2014, ISBN 9984-9499-8-2.
SAMARINA, Ol’ga Ivanovna. Obščiny molokan na Kavkaze: istorija, kul’tura, byt, chozjajstvennaja dějatěl’nost‘. 2004. PhD Thesis. Stavropol‘.
Structura Etno-demografică a României. [online] Centrul de Resurse pentru Diversitate Etnoculturală, 2002. [cit. 27. 2. 2017] Dostupné z: <http://www.edrc.ro/recensamant.jsp?language=0>.
ŠATAVA, Leoš. Národnostní menšiny v Evropě: encyklopedická příručka. Praha: I. Železný, 1994. ISBN 80-7116-375-9.
ZAVARINA, Antonina. Russkoje naselenije vostočnoj Latvii vo vtoroj polovině XIX- načale XX veka: istoriko-etnografičeskij očerk. Riga: Zinatně, 1986.