The Russian minority NGOs in the pre-war Latvia

The Russian minority NGOs in the pre-war Latvia

The First World War and the Russian Revolution had a serious impact on civil society. During the first years of Latvian independence in the 1920’s the Russian minority of Latvia (one tenth part of the country’s population) had to put considerable strength into restoring the non-governmental organisations that had existed earlier and creating new ones. Dozens of Russian minority non-governmental organisations had already been functioning in the early 1920’s and their number continued to grow.

Riga was the centre of the Russian minority’s public life. But Russian associations were also established in other towns and villages with the considerable minority population. There were Russian minority cultural and educational, charitable, professional, emigrants’, religious and youth organisations. Most favourable for the progress of social life in pre-war Latvia was the parliamentary republican period (1918 - 1934).

The situation changed after the dictatorship of Kārlis Ulmanis was established in 1934. Associations which had promoted political aims were clamped down upon. The remaining organisations fell under the strict control of the state. Special permission was required for performing Russian songs or printing programmes in Russian, etc. (just as in other minority languages). In 1938 a new Law on Associations was passed, which required them to be re-registered. This led to an even greater stifling of public life. The number of Russian associations was reduced. Nevertheless, the Russian minority’s public life continued up to the annexation of Latvia in 1940. From June 1940 to February 1941 the new Soviet administration of Latvia disbanded all remaining 58 Russian minority associations. It was not until 50 years later, at the end of the 1980’s, that Latvian Russians could once again freely participate in activities of non-governmental organisations.

Юрий Абызов. Латвийская ветвь российской эмиграции

Генрих Гроссен. Жизнь в Риге

Татьяна Фейгмане. Русские в довоенной Латвии

Татьяна Фейгмане. Русские общества в Латвии (1920-1940 гг.) (справочно-информационный материал)

Список старообрядческих организаций Латвии

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